Monday, September 7, 2009

Rigatoni alla Bolognese

Bolognese sauce is a meat-based sauce for pasta originating in Bologna, Italy. It's traditionally served over tagliatelle, but I decided to serve it over rigatoni instead. Since the sauce is so hearty, I decided that it needed a hearty chunky pasta to go with it.
This is my version of a classic Bolognese. I hope you'll give it a try. It's SO worth the time! Just put the pot on and let it simmer all afternoon.
You'll love it!

4 strips thick bacon, diced
1 large onion
3 ribs celery
2 large carrots
3 or 4 large button mushrooms
6 garlic cloves
2 pounds ground beef chuck
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 cup red wine
1 can (14.5 oz) beef broth
2 cans (28 oz ea) crushed tomatoes in puree
Rigatoni, Tagliatelle, or your choice of pasta

In a Dutch oven, cook bacon until it begins to crisp. Leave some of the rendered fat in the pot and drain the rest. Finely mince the onions, celery, carrot, mushrooms, and garlic. Add them to the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add beef; season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook, stirring and breaking up meat with a spoon, until browned, about 15 minutes.
Add milk, wine, and broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in tomatoes; simmer gently over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours. Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve over cooked rigatoni.

-Instead of chopping the vegetables by hand, I just threw them all into the food processor and pulsed it until everything was finely minced.
-I used evaporated milk because it's less likely to break in the sauce, but you can use whole milk if you like. I wouldn't use a milk with a lower percentage of fat.
-Let it simmer for a minimum of two hours. The longer it simmers, the better it is. I usually let it go for up to 4 or 5 hours. Just be sure to stir it from the bottom up to be sure it's not burning on the bottom.
If your sauce becomes too thick, just add a ladle of pasta water to loosen it up a bit.
-This recipe makes a huge batch, so serve some for dinner, then put the rest of the sauce into containers and store them in your freezer for up to two months.

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