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Bolognese without borders!

June 9, 2009

Bolognese, Italian meat sauce is one of my favorite dishes. It is so simple in concept yet so complex in flavor. You can make so many different versions of Bolognese and each one has something to be admired. DSC06429I remember seeing Mario Batali make one with milk and no tomato product and it was amazing. My family likes the tomato based version so that is what I usually do. I have tried variations with pork and veal added to the beef but I find that it flattens the otherwise full, rich, beef flavor that we love in a Bolognese.

I am always tweaking my Bolognese to try to arrive at that silky, rich result that makes Bolognese so great. When the meat still has texture but seems to melt into the sauce with each bite. You taste ripe tomato but it has a deep, roasted flavor, you taste a backdrop of warm herbs (I love thyme and rosemary in it), you don’t actually taste carrots, onions or celery but they have done their duty sweating out their lovely aromatics and lacing the sauce with another layer of flavor.

My secret is to add Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) to the sauce. Adding a bread/milk mixture (called a panade) is a common way to add moisture to a meatball or meatloaf). These shavings of dried bread seem to be little liaisons for moisture and flavor that give the sauce the silky texture.  I also added a little chorizo last night. About two ounce to a pound of beef. You could not taste the chorizo but it added that smoky, pork flavor that I was not able to achieve using regular ground pork. I think this is the new family favorite!

What pasta I use is partially determined by my mood for sure. In this case my mood was also the right shape for the sauce. These little shells held the sauce perfectly. It was like eating a plate of multiple individually stuffed pasta. Each bite had the full flavor of the pasta and then an explosion of mouth-watering meat sauce. A little Parmesan and a dab of butter stirred in at the end did not hurt a thing!

Eat well, enjoy life, be happy.

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