Not Bolognese

25 Oct

This really isn’t a recipe. It’s more of a recap of my evening. There is nothing new or earth-shattering about what follows here.

Since the half-marathon a week ago, I’ve been in my standard post-run blues mode. I haven’t been out for a run and I’ve been eating like a champion couch-potato with a death wish.

I haven’t fought this feeling; I’ve done what I wanted, knowing that a moment would come when enlightened self-interest would kick in.

This is not about that moment, because it has not yet come.

What did hit was the urge to cook. So …

In a skillet:

I warmed two tbsp olive oil
and added two large garlic cloves, smashed

When my kitchen smelled magical, I added in:

Four basil leaves (I went the chiffonade route)
One can of tomatoes (Aurora Italian Plum Tomatoes, 796 mL)

I crushed the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon, and set the pan to simmer.

In the meantime:

In a second skillet, I brought 2 tbsp of olive oil and about 2 tbsp of butter to foam. Once it subsided, I added:

3/4 lb Italian pork sausage (expressed from the casings)
3/4 lb ground veal
(I would here like to offer an unsolicited testimonial for my favourite butcher shop: Sanagan’s Meat Locker in Kensington Market. Great products. Lovely people. Excellent prices.)

Browned it. And once the liquid evaporated, in went 1 C of whole milk.

Then I waited while it simmered and the milk went its mysterious way.

In truth, the waiting could be better characterized as eating Miss Vickie’s Sweet Chili and Sour Cream chips, but I see no reason to be pedantic.

So, once the milk had simmered away, I added one cup of Shiraz.

This too had to simmer away, which allows us to turn our attentions back to the burbling tomato sauce.

All was well. I had a delicious, fresh sauce on the go. It could have ended there, but I wanted a deeper flavour. So, I added two cups of veal stock. Huzzah! Veal stock! Made by me. Lying in wait in the freezer for an occasion such as this.

The tomato/stock mixture burbled away, the wine simmered down and then I added the former to the latter and let them co-mingle, as the kids say.

While the sauce came together, I brought a pot of water to a boil, salted it and then threw in 85g of rotini. (I’ve been comparing Italian and Canadian pasta recently. The Italian wins every time. This is not a surprise, but I thought it was worth mentioning.)

Just before the pasta hit al dente, I spooned some of the sauce back into the pan in which I had cooked the tomato/stock combo. Then, using a skimmer, I added in the rotini. Finally, I grated a good-sized helping of Parmigiano-Reggiano and let it all come together over a low flame.

Because I used the skimmer to extract the pasta*, I had an entire pot of cooking water at the ready, not that I would ever need the whole amount. I only used about 1/3 C to get the sauce to the right texture and thickness.

And then it was done. And it was delicious. And I ate it all. And now as I review my evening, I realize that the whole thing took about three hours and that’s perfectly okay with me. Imagine if I had actually made a proper bolognese.

*This is my go-to method for pasta. I either use tongs or a skimmer so that I don’t have to muck around with “reserving some of the cooking liquid”, a strainer and a trip to the sink with a potful of boiling water.


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