I'm sure that most people have made spaghetti with some sort of meat sauce. I know i've had (and made) my fair share of them, but up until recently, I had just not been that big of a fan of meat sauces with pasta. That is, until I read the book HEAT. In this book, we follow bill buford around on his quest to learn more about the origins of italian cooking (which entails everything from working in mario batali's kitchen at babbo, to being a butcher's apprentice in italy.) It is the time that buford spends in tuscany (more on this later) that inspired me to give this dish another go. You see, the problem I have with most meat sauces is that they usually end up just tasting like a bad version of italian chili. If I am going to deny the beauty of a traditional, meatless, red sauce, I want it to taste like, well...meat. lots of meat. I want to feel like it was worth giving up the perfect tomato sauce. I want to be rewarded with a meat trophy. and what better place to achieve such a badge of merit, than in tuscany, where most of the food is brown.
Bolognese Sauce (Inspired by the book HEAT, and by my ladyfriend's constant request to meat up my sauce)
1.5 pounds mixed ground meats (your choice here, I used a pound of ground beef and .5 pounds ground pork, but you could get all crazy and use lamb, turkey, venison, yak, you get the point. OK, fine if you want the truth, I actually had some bratwursts that I squeezed out of their intestinal home for the ground pork part. sometimes we make food, sometimes we make do...)
2 slices prosciutto, minced
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chile, minced
1 green (I used poblano) pepper, minced
small handful of flat italian parsley, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
salt and peps
2 tsp coriander powder
couple healthy dashes fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp fennel seed ( crush with the side of your knife or something blunt before adding)
1 tsp dried oregano
handful of fresh basil, stems and leaves separated, minced
big handful of cherry or grape tomatoes (left whole)
ok, here's the do:
take all of your minced veggies (including the minced basil stems) and saute them over med heat in olive oil, about 10 or so minutes until softened and starting to golden-ize. add the prosciutto, ground meats, and a little salt and pepper. go until your meat is browned, breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon. now, add the tomato paste, cherry tomatoes, and spices (along with a bit more salt and peps), give it all a good mix and deglaze your pan by going around it a couple of times with some port wine. cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and then add your tomato sauce, an empty tomato sauce can full of water, and a little more port. turn to low and boil your pasta. once your pasta is done check your sauce. it should be pretty dry (if not turn heat up and cook off most of the liquid. now, add a couple ladles full of pasta water to the sauce. this will help mix all of the flavors and add some more liquid into the mix. I like my bolognese more on the dry side, but this last minute addition really ties the sauce together (does it not!).
DISH recommends: HEAT. usually I'm a nonfiction fan, but this was a really fast informative read. If you are a fan of food and wonder what it is like to work in a professional kitchen, this is a pretty realistic representation.