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Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Bolognese Outside Bologna

It was during one of those weekends that my husband suggested that we have a spaghetti dinner that this plan of having it with a Bolognese sauce was cooked up.  Indeed, this menu suggestion was well received since it will only require a few ingredients.  And really, a pasta dish is easier and therefor faster to prepare for dinner.
A Bolognese sauce refers to a meat based dish (usually beef and pork) dressed up with a little tomato sauce and red wine with origins from the city of Bologna in Italy.  It is usually called ragu alla Bolognese or simply ragu.  For anyone who has had a taste of the Filipino spaghetti, the Bolognese sauce is the basis for it.  Of course, we have made it our own by removing the wine and adding ham and hotdog slices, and as perfected by Makati Supermart, added red and green bell peppers and may I guess, a lot of pickles to reach that sweet-sour-salty taste we always look for in a meat sauce. 
But I digress. 
Here is my recipe for the Bolognese sauce that evening.  I can safely say that I stayed true to the Italian recipe, although the wine I used was something that I had on hand.  There isn't any particular wine that one should use actually, but do follow the rule that the wine you should use for cooking should be something you also drink.  In my case, it was a rioja (Proximo by Marques de Riscal 2010). 
For the pasta, I used spaghettini and made sure that I cooked it al dente.  This means that you should take out the pasta from the simmering water when it is almost cooked through, not when it is entirely cooked.  No need to worry about it since even when you are able to get the pasta out, it continues to cook through because of the residual heat from the pot, and by the time you mix it with the sauce, it'll just be ripe enough to soak in the flavors of the Bolognese.  Perfetto.
The Recipe
1 kilo ground lean beef
5-6 strips bacon
1 medium white onion, chopped finely
1 medium carrot, chopped finely
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 bottles passata, or pureed tomato
1/3 cup red wine
salt & pepper to taste
1 500-gram long pasta of your choice, cooked al dente
1.  Make a sofrito by heating your sauce pan with a little water, then cook your bacon strips in it until water evaporates and oil from the bacon comes out.  Continue cooking until crisp, then take out the bacon and set aside.  With the bacon fat, sauté the onion, carrot and celery until fragrant.  This is equivalent to gisa in Filipino cooking.
2.  Add the ground beef and cook until brown.  Meanwhile, chop the cooked bacon into large bits.  When the beef has browned, add back the bacon followed by the pureed tomato then season with salt and pepper, and cover, braising the meat for 15 minutes.
3.  Uncover, stir in the wine, and continue cooking until it starts boiling.  Check seasoning.
4.  Pour sauce over pasta, grate fresh parmesan over it and serve with heated baguette.

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