Italians obviously take their food and recipes very serious. Family recipes are sacred and remain secret. But recipes also remain controversial. Italians can engage in heated arguments over ingredients to a dish or preparation of a dish. So much so that the Accademia Italiana della Cucina registered the official recipe in 1982. Despite the official recipe, Italians and cooks everywhere use various ingredients. But the result should all be same; a warm, comfort sauce were flavors build and meld together creating a delicious meat sauce.
Bolognese is a meat sauce with tomatoes, not a tomato sauce with meat. The registered recipe calls for beef but I choose three different types of ground meats; veal, beef, and pork. Add in diced pancetta and you have your meat sauce.
Bolognese sauce is also known for its cooking time. The sauce is slowly-simmered for hours, which has also caused debate. Some choose shorter cooking times while I believe the lower and slower it simmers, the better it will taste. It takes time for the flavors to fully develop so shortcuts won't do.
The Bologna Chamber of Commerce states that an official Bolognese sauce should contain onions, celery, carrots, pancetta, ground beef, tomatoes, milk and white wine. Your basis of the recipe should start here and feel free to add any additional components. Set up with mise-en-place with:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion
4 small carrots
4 stalks celery heart
4 garlic cloves
Start with preparation of the soffrito-the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Chop them into a nice and fine cut. Make sure the size is the same to ensure even cooking.
4 oz. of diced pancetta
3lb of meat mixture-veal, beef, and pork
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups milk
1 28-oz San Marzano tomatoes, diced (use liquid)
1 cup beef stock
The liquid will break down while the flavors start to build. After 3 hours the colors deepen and the sauce thickens.
To serve, use freshly shaved Italian cheese and garnish with basil. Ha, I forgot the basil....
The tomatoes had the right amount of presense in the dish, not too much but achieved a nice base, the chunky tomato held up next to the bold meaty flavors.
The pappardelle was the perfect pasta to host the sauce. It clinged to the pasta and was the right size/shape for the sauce.
Ryoko was very pleased and we really enjoyed the ambiance from Pavarotti, the candles, and the wine but the sauce was the highlight. Despite my dressing up in a tie, she would say the sauce was the highlight as well.
I understand why there is much debate over the recipe after eating the Bolognese sauce. Such love and care goes into making the dish. To prefecting the sauce, choosing the right ingredients, the amount of ingredients to the satisfaction gained from eating it, such debates are important I guess. It is a dish worth fighting over.
A true comforting meal took us to Bologna, Italy for a night. It was so worth it!