Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spaghetti Bolognese


A few months ago, Madison held its winter restaurant week - $25 for 3-courses for one week only. My husband and I, along with a group of friends, partook in a dinner at Lombardino's, a popular and very well-reviewed Italian place in Madison. I had never been there before but had heard so many good things about it, I was sure that whatever I ordered would be phenomenal. Well, it was. I ordered their Spaghetti Bolognese and it was hands down one of the best Italian meals I've ever had. EVER.

Ever since then, my weekly craving has been for bolognese. I've never really sought out a bolognese recipe though, so when I got this month's Bon Appetit and saw a gorgeous looking bolognese recipe in an article, I thought I'd give it a try.

I tweaked the recipe a bit, because 1) I don't like veal so I used ground beef instead, and 2) I stupidly bought prosciutto instead of pancetta, so I substituted bacon, and 3) I was surprised to not see any garlic in the recipe so I added some. But other than those minor tweaks, I followed the recipe to a "T" and it turned out wonderfully. This makes a sizable portion. Enough for four very, very large portions or six filling ones. Quite happily, I've got plenty of leftovers to eat the rest of the week.

Here's the original recipe on Bon Appetit

I've modified the recipe slightly below.

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 12 oz ground beef (85% lean)
  • 3 slices of bacon, finely chopped (original recipe: 3 oz pancetta)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (I used merlot)
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste (original recipe: 3 Tbsp)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • Finely grated parmesan (for serving)

  1. Chunk the onion, carrots, celery and garlic into 1-inch pieces and throw them into a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add beef, and pancetta; sauté, breaking up with the back of a spoon, until browned, about 15 minutes. Add wine; boil 1 minute, stirring often and scraping up browned bits. Add 2 1/2 cups stock and tomato paste; stir to blend. Reduce heat to very low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper
  3. Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan; gradually add to sauce. Cover sauce with lid slightly ajar and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until milk is absorbed, about 45 minutes, adding more stock by 1/4-cupfuls to thin if needed. DO AHEAD Ragù can be made 2 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Transfer ragù to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pasta and toss to coat. Stir in some of the reserved pasta water by tablespoonfuls if sauce seems dry. Divide pasta among warm plates. Serve with Parmesan.

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