Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Don’t Give Me That Baloney! I Want Real Bolognese!

Living up here on the frozen tundra near Buffalo, NY, I am partial to recipes for “comfort food” to get us through the July 5-to-next-July 3 winter season. A long while back, I found a quick and easy recipe for “Spaghetti Bolognese” that we’ve served now and then. The recipe included, among other things, spaghetti and sour cream.

I recently stumbled upon an article about Pasta Bolognese from genuine gentlemen of Bologna. Its revelations consumed me with shame for serving a poor, domestic, “Family Circle” sort of Bolognese all these years. I think you’ll enjoy the entire article including, of course, the Bologna locals’ recipe.

When Nancy and I tried the Tagliatelle Bolognese as suggested, we were left just a bit flat. Some of the disappointment was due to short cuts I took in my preparation. So last night I resolved to give it another try, making changes and substitutions that might work better in our house. Here’s what I changed:

1) I took pains to mince the celery and carrots to almost 1/8” size this time;

2) Instead of using diced tomatoes, I used crushed tomatoes. This was a good move to improve plate appeal;

3) We had some leftover shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms in the crisper. I recalled from last winter’s reading of Cook’s Illustrated “The Science of Good Cooking” that such toadstools contributed “umami,” or savory goodness to any dish. So I chopped them small and included them in the recipe. The chopped mushrooms did not visually stand out on the plate, but the sauce was happy they were there;

4) Instead of using ground beef, last night I used ground “pheasburger.” So tonight our sauce looked like this:

5) Although the article avers that Tagliatelle was sacred in Bologna, Nancy and I found that the wide long noodles did not pick up and hold sauce well. We have discovered this with several other saucy dishes as well. Last night we used a pasta that we find binds better with sauce: orecchiette. We were not disappointed.

Not only did this blend of ingredients have better plate appeal, it was also really tasty. Enjoy with a bottle of Chianti Classico Riserva!

Here’s my recipe for “pheasburger”:

4 lb. boneless pheasant breast
1 lb. bacon
3 or 4 large garlic cloves
1 generous handful of breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2 shot glass of salt

Run all ingredients through a meat grinder and freeze in 1 lb. bags.