California Central Coast Recipes
Bolognese Ragu Romantic Table Style
NO! Bolognese Ragu is NOT tomato sauce with hamburger meat! What Heresy! What an abomination! Any cook that could call "ground hamburger meat sauce" a Bolognese sauce should be run out of town!--Or at least barred from further cooking anything Italian in a kitchen! A true ragu usually begins by using a trito of aromatic vegetables such as diced onion, carrots and celery-parsley sauteed in Olive or Canola oil until softened and lightly translucent to become the basis to build the ragu. Then one adds the different meats and slowly simmers together.
Ragus are BIG sauces! By that I mean They're big on flavor! -They're big on aromas! They're big on creating unforgettable memories! And they're big -or special-enough- for very special occasions! --Perfect to be served as a special meal for your favorite friends and families during the holidays and for special events!
I started with the traditional true Bolognese Ragu recipe that we learned in Italy and altered it by using ingredients available here on the Central Coast. Yes, we are still a bit behind the East Coast in some specialty items shipped from Italy. For instance, the traditional recipe calls for pancetta. We personally prefer proscuitto over the pancetta for its fresher flavor. Local Pancetta -when available, tastes very gamey and is a much heavier-tasting meat than the Italian version. In moderation in other recipes, pancetta is great, but not when you're doing a "crescendo" of balancing subtle flavors for one of the world's best ragus!
Turn on the radio or stereo, get some mellow seasonal tunes on, roll-up your sleeves and enjoy the whole process -the great recipe, the wonderfully-fresh meats and fresh aromatic vegetables and spices. --Put your love into it! It'll show in the final product! But DON'T rush it! The longer a true ragu simmers, the better and more complex will be the taste! It's not uncommon for Italian cooks letting their ragus cook all day, with an occasional stir and fine-tuning of the spices!
Preparation time: 30 minutesCooking time: 3 hours
4 to 8 Tablespoons Canola oil
2 cups Carrots , peeled and diced
2 cups Celery , rinsed and diced
2 cups White onion , peeled and diced
13 ounces Prosciutto , Coarsely ground
2 pounds Fresh Pork butt or shoulder ,Coarsely ground
11 ounces Veal , Coarsely ground
1-1/2 cups Fume' Blanc or other similar dry white wine
1 28 ounce Whole Canned Tomatoes , drained and coarsely chopped (Save juice if needed)
1 15 ounce Whole canned tomatoes , drained and coarsely chopped(Save juice if needed.)
Salt to taste
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
.25 t Ground Nutmeg
1 In a large non-reactive stockpot, add in 3-4 tablespoons canola oil and heat over medium-low heat. Saute the onions for 5-10 minutes until softened and slightly translucent. Add in the carrots and celery and saute until softened, mixing well to combine with the onions.
2 Add the prosciutto, simmer for about 10-15 minutes, mixing well with the vegetable mixture. If mixture seems a bit dry, add in a little more oil.
3 Add in the pork and veal and beak-up well and distribute throughout meat/vegetable mixture. Cook on low for fifteen- twenty minutes or so, stirring often.
4 Turn up heat a bit and deglaze with the white wine and let liquid reduce down to half.
5 Add in the drained tomatoes and stir to amalgamate. If mixture seems a bit dry, add in a little of the juice! -(Keep in mind that as the Ragu will cook, it will give off juices--and you do NOT want a "tomato sauce", so allow for that!)
6 Add in a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Do NOT overdo the spices.- They will intensify as they cook! You can always add more and adjust spices later.
7 Reduce heat to a low-simmer and let Ragu cook for two to three hours at least, stirring occasionally. Cover partially.
For best flavor, it is best to use a deep stockpot so that the oil floats on the surface to prevent liquid reduction. The oil will solidify during refrigeration and can be easily removed before reheating, prior to serving.
Serve this divine Ragu with (ideally) spinach pasta, complemented by a bottle of a Sangiovese wine.