I recently saw a recipe for Anne Burrell’s bolognese over on Kaitlyn’s blog. If you don’t know who Anne Burrell is, she is perhaps best known as Mario Batali’s soux chef on Iron Chef America. She was also recently given her own FN show called Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, and while some find her quirky personality a bit off-putting, the recipes get great reviews. I had been meaning to try making a traditional bolognese, so when I saw this version that took 4 hours in Kaitlyn’s blog, I figured it must be the real deal.
However, my bolognese definitely ended up having my own twist. When I was shopping for the meat for the sauce, they were all out of the naturally raised beef I prefer to buy. In fact, the ground beef in general was pretty picked over. That’s when a new item caught my eye – ground, naturally raised bison. I have had bison burgers before, but never attempted to cook it at home. I figured this would be the perfect way to try it – after all, I am pretty sure bolognese in Italy started as a foolproof way to use up cuts of game. For the sauce, since I was making a half recipe, I rounded out my pound of healthy, affordable ($4.99/pound) bison with a half-pound of ground beef chuck that Craig picked up on a calmer grocery day when there was more selection.
This sauce was to-die-for. It definitely made a dish worthy of Anne’s “restaurant chef” title. And, almost as good, it made our home smell like an Italian trattoria. The original recipe would make a ton, so only make the full recipe if you plan to freeze some sauce. The half recipe mixed well with a pound of pasta, making about 5 servings.
I served this with garlic roasted broccoli (instructions below) and a glass of Chianti!
4-Hour, 2-Meat Authentic Bolognese
Adapted from: Anne Burrell, via Kaitlyn’s blog (see link above)
½ large sweet onion, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan and for finishing
Salt (I used my sea salt grinder)
1.5 pounds ground meat of your choice – I used 1 lb. of bison and ½ lb. ground chuck
1 cup tomato paste
1 ¼ cups hearty red wine – I used Chianti – this is Italian, after all!
1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
1 pound fettuccine
Coarsely grated or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a paste. In a dutch oven over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until all the water has evaporated and vegetables become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 10 to 15 minutes. Be patient.
2. Add the ground meat and season again generously with salt. Brown the meat to a deep, rich brown. Don’t worry if there is a lot of brown stuck to the bottom of the pan. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine. Cook another 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add about 2 cups of water to the pan, or enough to raise the level of liquid by at least 1 inch. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the bundle of thyme. As the water evaporates, gradually add more, 1 to 2 cups at a time. Don’t be shy about adding water during the cooking process; you can always cook it out. I checked the sauce every 20-30 minutes and probably added about 3 additional cups of water in addition to the first 2 cups. Stir and taste frequently. Season with salt as sauce cooks – this sauce will probably need more salt than you’re used to putting in things since it’s almost all meat. Simmer for 3 ½ hours.
5. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the pasta. Salt water well before adding pasta. When the water is at a rolling boil add the fettuccine and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package (for Barilla fettuccine rigate, 7 min.). Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
6. While the pasta is cooking, remove ½ of the sauce from the pot and reserve. Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add the reserved sauce gradually to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water as needed and cook the pasta and sauce together over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and give pasta a drizzle of the olive oil. Toss vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls. Top with grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.
For Garlic-Roasted Broccoli:
Adapted from: None – just looked up a rough cooking time online and then made this one up.
Preheat the oven to 425. Wash broccoli and cut into large florets. Pat broccoli dry. Slice a large garlic clove into very thin rounds. Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil. Add broccoli to sheet and drizzle a little more olive oil on top. Sprinkle with salt and crushed red pepper flakes and toss to combine. Place a slice of garlic on top of each floret (if the garlic touches the pan rather than the broccoli, it may burn). Roast for 12-15 minutes, tossing once lightly during cooking process.
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