Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spaghetti Rigati alla Bolognese Moderna

Pasta alla Bolognese is so very rich tasting!
     This recipe is a refined modern bolognese sauce that I learned from a great chef from Northern Italy.  This bolognese sauce is not simply a sugo de carne (meat sauce) or a Ragu alla Bolognese that has cream added to it.  This bolognese recipe is not the wild boar bolognese style ragu that is found in the Tuscany region.  This sauce recipe is never prepared ahead of time.
     One of the earliest ragu bolognese recipes was written in the late 1700's.  The recipe feature veal with soffritto vegetables, butter, pancetta and broth.  Colombian exchange tomatoes were not part of the recipe as of yet.
     Bologna Italy has many influences in its cuisine and the food tends to have mild rich flavors.  Pork and veal are traditional meats of this area and offals are incorporated into the cuisine.  The use of liver in sausage making and ragu sauces is common in Bologna.  Liver adds a very rich flavor to whatever food item it is added to.
     The herbs and spices used in the cuisine of Bologna have many influences, because Bologna has been a major trade center for a very long time.  In Bologna, nutmeg is traditionally used to flavor meat sauces and sausages, especially for those that contain pork.  Mortadella alla Bologna and Bologna Sausage are two of the most famous sausages in the world and nutmeg is a key flavor in both of these finely ground pork meat sausages.
     There are five different meats in this recipe and one of them is chicken liver.  Early in my career, I noticed that many Italian chefs that I apprenticed with really did not like chicken.  Those Italian chefs came from an age where refrigeration was not a common thing.  Chickens used to hang in markets and by mid morning the chickens started to reek.  Awful smelling chicken carcass aroma can turn anybody stomach!  The Italian chefs preferred eggs over chicken for that reason.  During the winter months, when temperatures were cooler, chicken became a desirable item.  With chicken, comes chicken livers and chicken livers are part of Italian cuisine.  In Bologna, chicken liver is added to a Bolognese sauce to create a nice rich pate like flavor.  The chicken liver combines with the nutmeg flavor in a wonderful way!
     Another meat ingredient is pancetta.  Pancetta is a dry cured Italian bacon.  Pork, beef and veal are the other three meats in this Bolognese sauce recipe.
     Nutmeg is a key spice in this sauce.  The nutmeg and chicken liver flavors combine to give this sauce a hint of a rich pate flavor.  Be careful not to add too much nutmeg or that will be the only flavor that can be tastes.  All of the meats should be minced by hand and not ground for a good hand crafted Bolognese Sauce.  Spaghetti or capellini pasta is traditional for this sauce.  Spaghetti Rigati is a ribbed spaghetti and it picks up the sauce very nicely.
     Modern Bolognese Sauce Recipe:
     This recipe makes enough for 2 medium portions or 1 large portion!  This sauce should be made to order and it does take a while to cook.  All of the meats should be finely minced by hand.  
     About 10 minutes before the sauce finishes cooking, cook 1 portion of spaghetti rigati in boiling water.
     Heat a saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced celery.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced carrot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     When the vegetables start to become tender, add one whole chicken liver.
     Add 3 tablespoons of finely chopped pancetta.
     Add 3 tablespoons of finely chopped portabella mushroom.
     Saute the mixture, till the vegetables become cooked soft and till the pancetta starts to lightly brown.  The chicken liver should be about 3/4 cooked by this time.
     Remove the partially cooked chicken liver from the pan an place it on a cutting board.
     Finely chop the chicken liver and return it to the pan.
     Add 2 ounces of finely minced pork.
     Add 2 ounces of finely minced beef.
     Add 3 ounces of finely minced veal.
     Saute till the meats become fully cooked, but not brown in color.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Add 1 peeled and seeded diced fresh plum tomato.
     Add 1 cup of imported Italian canned crushed plum tomato.
     Saute and occasionally stir for about two minutes.
     Add 1/2 cup of dry red wine.
     Add 1/2 cup of veal broth or light beef broth.
     Add 2 pinches of ground sage.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 2 pinches of ground nutmeg.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Simmer for another 5 minutes.  (The pasta should be started cooking at this time.)
     Add 2 pinches of chopped fresh parsley.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Add 3 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
     Stir the sauce well, so the ingredients combine.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium sauce consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat, till the pasta is ready.  Add a splash of veal broth or light beef broth, if the sauce becomes too thick.
     Spaghetti Rigati alla Moderna Bolognese:
     Add 1 portion of al dente cooked spaghetti rigati pasta to the sauce in the pan.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Use a long tine carving fork to place the pasta on a plate.
     Pour any remaining sauce over the pasta.
     Garnish with parsley sprigs and shaved fresh parmesan cheese.
     The flavor of this modern bolognese sauce is phenomenally rich!
     I noticed that many bolognese sauce recipes omit the chicken liver and nutmeg due to personal taste or fear that the sauce would not be as well liked.  The small amount of chicken liver and nutmeg combine to give this sauce an undertone of rich pate flavor.  Offal meat is very popular in some Italian regions, especially Balogna.
     The fine chopped soffritto vegetables are essential to the flavor in bolognese sauce and they are an old tradition.  The light sage flavor is also required in a bolognese Sauce.
     Bolognese is one of the most popular and very best of Italian pasta sauces!  Don't settle for a regular meat sauce with cream added to it that a second rate chef may try to pass off as Bolognese Sauce!  There is only one truly authentic modern Bolognese recipe and this is it!
     My first few years of chef apprenticeship was done in regional Italian fine dining restaurants.  I have respect for tradition when I cook Italian food.  An Italian Chianti, Sangue di Giove or a French 2005 Chateau Fonguillon Montagne Saint-Emilion Grand Vin De Bordeaux is perfect with this pasta.  Ciao Baby!  ...  Shawna

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