Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekend Overview

How was your weekend? I had a nice relaxing one, filled with only a teeny bit of work. Saturday, I made bolognese sauce and had my family over for dinner. I love having them over to share a big bowl of pasta :) I took pics throughout the process so I could share the recipe. I have only gone to one restaurant where they've got this recipe right. I also ordered it in Paris, which duh, Parisians are not known for their pasta, but I thought they're so close to Italy, something had to wear off on them?? Wrong. It was literally chili served over spaghetti. So bad. It's the perfect hearty sauce to serve on a chilly winter evening. Here's my version:

Andrea's Bolognese Sauce

1/2 lb pork loin, minced
1/2 lb beef (I used filet), minced
4 oz. prosciutto
4 oz. pancetta
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 med. onion chopped
1-2 carrots chopped in small pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped in small pieces
1  c white or red wine
2 cups milk
7 tbs butter
4 tbs olive oil
14 oz diced canned tomatoes
1 c beef or chicken stock
1 tiny pomeranian to eat all the scraps you drop on the floor

Get your ingredients out and ready. That's my cookbook that I adapted the recipe from. It's such a pretty little book with the cutest illustrations.

Chop all your ingredients well.

Melt butter in the olive oil in a large skillet, at least 12 inches wide, over medium heat.

Meanwhile, chop up all your meats. I had the butcher chop them up as best they could and then made them smaller when I got home. Also, Wegmans sells the prosciutto and pancetta already cubed, which makes life so much easier.

Here's the tiny pomeranian I spoke of:

Saute the vegetables over med-high heat in the oil and butter until soft, about 10 - 15 minutes, adding a pinch of salt.

I waited to add the garlic until the end since it's so easy to burn and you'll just end up with bitterness. Increase the heat to high and add the meats in 4 additions, waiting for the water to evaporate after each addition. After the last addition, wait until the pan sputters a bit and turn the heat down. You'll want to saute until the meat has browned and you have some crispy bits, 10-15 minutes.:

Deglaze the mixture with the wine. One recipe called for white wine, but next time, I'm using red. A good chianti would add a nice robust flavor, I think.

In a saucepan, add milk, tomatoes, and stock along with a good grinding of salt and pepper. Add your meat and veggie mix, along with another dash of salt and some pepper. I also added some oregano, parsley and basil.

Now we wait 5 hours. Yes that's right. 5 hours. Good things take time. Keep uncovered and just keep at a gentle simmer.

If your sauce is not thick enough, add a bit of tomato paste and heavy cream. The best thing to do is wait even longer to let it thicken. If you're out of time, like I was, add some cornstarch, the cheater's way to make sauces and soup thicker. If it's too thick, just add a bit of water or more stock. 

Real bolognese recipes also call for chicken livers, but A. eww and B. there's enough meat in this dish to make a vegetarian cringe.

This sauce, in my opinion, is best served over tagliattele. Homemade is the absolute best, which my husbands' parents do all the time, but I just used packaged nests. You can also use farfalle or tortellini.

And finally you eat it. Which is exactly what we did before I could take a photo of the finished dish. Whoops! I also forgot to take a pic of my outfit, which basically means I'm a terrible blogger. I made a blood orange tart for dessert, and it looked waaay more attractive than it tasted. Apparently, when oranges are cooked, they become caramelized, removing all the sugars and leaving behind a bitter taste. I was super disappointed that I wasted 6 of my precious blood oranges. I even tried sprinkling honey over it and nothin'. At least it was pretty to look at??

On the upside of things, I made my first macaroons since I took a class at Sur la Table in the Spring. Coffee cream flavored and holy cannoli are they good... 

Unfortunately, it's only January, but to help me get through until Spring, I bought a hydrangea bulb. The stinkin thing is already blooming, and it's not even close to Spring! But my whole kitchen smells like Easter, so I can't complain. 

P.S. Those are Myer's lemons in the bowl. Omg, if you've never had these lemons, you don't know what you've been missing. They smell like heaven and taste so good. Hope your weekend was as relaxing as mine!

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