Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ragu alla Bolognese

Cook's Illustrated - Ragu alla Bolognese

The above was made from a recipe in the latest issue (November/December 2011) of Cook's Illustrated (sub required), apparently based on the Bolognese sauce of Dante de Magistris - chef/owner of Dante and Il Casale. I think pretty much everyone with a passing knowledge of Italian food knows about Bolognese sauce... basically it's the quintessential "meat sauce"... with ground beef, pork, and veal all making an appearance. What I didn't know is that there is some argument as to what role dairy ingredients should play in the sauce, with some swearing by their presence and others saying they have no place in a proper Bolognese. I've made Bolognese a couple of times but I've always made it with milk or cream, so the fact that this sauce was a "no dairy" version was kind of intriguing.

Otherwise the meat profile here is: pancetta, mortadella, ground beef, ground pork, ground veal, and chicken livers. I'm a little intimidated by offal... and haven't really tried it since I was a kid, but I couldn't detect the chicken livers presence despite the fact that they are pureed and added towards the end of the cooking process... so keep that in mind if the liver thing is a turn off (or just omit them). One tip I would have if you are going to make this is to use a large/wide pan... I used our smaller dutch oven (3.75 quarts) and it held everything fine, but it took forever to cook off the liquid from the meat.

Regardless, good recipe and I didn't miss the dairy... certainly a little less silky, but the big and complex meat flavors stole the show. Worth making.