Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chopping vegetables for everything

It seems like whenever I start to cook I begin by chopping onions. Don't get me wrong, I love onions and garlic and shallots and leeks, you name it. I feel like most cuisines begin dishes with some combination of these ingredients. I always have red onions and garlic on hand and usually scallions and often leeks and shallots.

I love the smell of onions cooking in a little olive oil and I know Mike likes to walk in and be hit by that smell. Sort of like waking up to bacon cooking and coffee brewing, even if you don't eat or drink either of them. Something about the smell means good food, family and comfort.

Mike requested "spaghetti" which I've covered before but this time I decided to go for Bolognese. I've used different recipes over the years and probably never make it the same way twice. This version was particularly delicious and I think it is due to the addition of chicken stock.

Please feel free to make your own version by using your own mix of meats or sausage, herbs and spices. That's probably what Italian grandmas do.

Bolognese my way

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 small shallot, diced
3 large garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed
2 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 teaspoons oregano
 ~2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
1/4 pound ground pork
1/3 pound ground turkey
1/2 pound lean ground beef
~1 cup red wine
~1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
28 ounces carton Pomi tomatoes
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
small handful Italian parsley, chopped
small handful basil, chopped
1/2 pound of capellini or spaghetti or bucatini
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated as garnish

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened and begin to turn translucent. Add shallots and continue cooking, about 1 minute. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, do not burn. Add more oil or turn heat down if necessary. Add carrots and celery to skillet and stir, cooking until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the oregano and toast slightly until aromatic.

Add pancetta and brown completely. Pour off any excess grease. Add the ground meats and brown until there is no pink in the beef or pork. Break it up as it cooks. Drain any grease.

Add the wine, bring to a boil, scraping up crunchy bits, until slightly reduced. Add the stock and repeat until reduced. Repeat if you would like more liquid or for fun.

Add the bay leaf, tomatoes and the tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour. This is best when it is made a day in advance. Cool, refrigerate.

Before you start the water for your pasta, remove the sauce from the refrigerator. Let set out for 15-30 minutes. While the salted water is coming to a boil for your pasta, warm up your sauce. Add the fresh parsley and basil and check your seasoning. Add salt and pepper if necessary.

Spoon your sauce over the pasta and garnish with Parmesan cheese. Serve with a green salad and hot garlic bread for a splurge.

This is my version so of course it's not authentic but it is delicious. Mike loves capellini so that's what I cooked and we slurped it up. A glass of a big bold Cabernet and we were set. And the best part leftovers! Enjoy!

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