RAGÙ ALLA BOLOGNESE

Ragù alla Bolognese, not to be confused with Ragú ™, and commonly called Bolognese in the US, is the queen of Italian cuisine. Originally from the Bologna region, it is a staple in Italy’s home cooking and restaurants alike.

Most everyone has their own recipe and variation, but historically back in 17 October 1982 the original recipe was registered at Bologna’s Chamber of Commerce by the Italian Academy of Cuisine, and that is indeed the absolute best recipe there is for flavor, texture and . . . labor of love. Highly recommended as an exercise in culinary achievements and a walk down memory lane of fabulous meals experienced on an Italian vacation.

This is the original recipe – as registered in 1982 – translated into English:

Ingredients (serves 6):

1 lb ground beef
8 oz pancetta, diced
75 grams of carrots, minced
75 grams of red onion, minced
75 grams of celery, minced
1 lbs of tomatoes, crushed
100 ml of dry white wine
200 ml of whole milk
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cups of quality (home-made) beef stock, nothing from a can or cardboard, please.

Preparation:

Have the beef stock simmering in a pot.

In a large non-stick skillet, saute the pancetta for 2-3 minutes until the fat is starting to become translucent (do not overcook it).

Add the olive oil, wait a few second until it’s hot, and then add the mixture of onion, celery and carrots, med-low heat, for 5-6 minutes (do not overcook it).

Add the ground beef, and sear it stirring continuously until it’s thoroughly cooked and browned.

Add the wine, continue stirring, until the wine has evaporated completely.

Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer (on low) stirring frequently – and adding the beef stock as needed 1-2 tablespoons at the time – for 1.5 hours.

Add the milk, and continue cooking a slow simmer for an additional 30 minutes, still adding beef stock as needed.

You should have plenty of beef stock left, do not use the entire 4-5 cup as listed above.

Add salt to taste, but it should be pretty much OK as is since the beef stock will give the ragù enough flavor.

Sources: Accademia Italiana della Cucina

NOTES:

  1. Now you have a nice batch of ragù, you can serve it on top of virtually any type of pasta you wish, in Bologna the quintessential use is on tagliatelle, but maltagliati or pappardelle would do; best if fresh pasta.
  2. For best result let the ragù rest in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Reheat gently before serving.
  3. If it is to be used on top of dry pasta, add 100 grams of cream (whipping cream) at the end of the cooking cycle, or before reheating.

POLPETTONE (Italian meatloaf)

polpettone

this is for Tony 🙂

Ingredients:

1lb ground beef
1lb ground turkey
salt qb
3 cups bread (stale french bread works best)
arugula, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 oz parmigiano
1.5 cups milk
breadcrumbs

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Soak bread in milk until all milk is absorbed.

Then, mix all ingredients except for the breadcrumbs together in a large bowl.

Transfer mixture to parchment paper. Roll paper to form loaf.

Slowly add breadcrumbs (enough to make loaf compact yet soft).

Place loaf in glass baking pan.

Cook in oven about 1.5 hours until golden. Use meat thermometer to check temperature – should be 160+ degrees.

CARLINA’s RAGU

Garganelli with ragu
Ingredients:

1/2lb ground beef
1/2lb ground turkey
1 Italian sausage
0.25lb chicken liver (optional)
1 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
6oz tomato paste

Preparation:

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef, turkey, sausage and liver.

Once meat is cooked, add carrots and celery and cook for additional 5 minutes.

Add entire can of tomato paste and one can of water to skillet. Stir and cook for additional 10 minutes on low heat.

Enjoy over good Italian pasta such as Garganelli (our favorite!)

GINGER AND CHOCOLATE CANTUCCINI

Ingredients:

500g flour
400g sugar
100g butter
6 eggs (6 egg yolks and 3 egg whites)
lemon zest
1tbs baking powder
125g candied ginger
125g chocolate chips
pinch of salt

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and a pinch of salt, trying to get a frothy mixture.

Add the butter, flour, lemon zest and baking powder.

Add the ginger and chocolate chips to the mixture.

Divide the dough into three parts and form loaves of about 3 cm thick, brush them with the egg whites and bake for 20 minutes.

Take the loaves out of the oven and cut them into 1 cm slices. Cook the biscuits for ten more minutes. Enjoy!

ITALIAN SAUSAGE STUFFING (inspired by MAMA)

Ingredients:

Cubed bread crumbs
1 lb sweet Italian sausage (remove casing)
8 oz chicken livers
1 medium red onion chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
4 sage leaves chopped
1 tsp rosemary chopped
1/4 cup parsley chopped
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 large eggs
3/4 pot of vegetable broth

Preparation:

Saute sausages in skillet for about 5 minutes until no longer pink. Break up into smaller pieces.

Add chicken livers to skillet and saute until until no longer pink. Stir and break up into smaller pieces.

In a large bowl, mix bread crumbs, sausage, and chicken livers.

In same skillet with juices from the meat, saute onions, celery, herbs and parsley.

Add cooked vegetables and herbs to the bowl with bread crumbs. Mix all ingredients together and add raisins.

In a small skillet whisk two eggs and transfer everything to large stock pot. Add vegetable broth to coat bread crumbs.

Cook everything in covered stock pot over low heat for 15 minutes.

CHICKEN CARLINA

chicken_carlina
Ingredients:

2lbs chickens (5 legs/5 thighs)
1 large red onion sliced
6 cloves of minced garlic
olive oil (to coat chicken)
fresh basil chopped
fresh parsley chopped
dried oregano
salt
pepper
1.5 cups of red wine vinegar
0.75 cups of water

Preparation:

Place onions and chicken in roasting pan. Coat evenly with 4-6 tbsp olive oil, garlic, dried herbs, salt and pepper.

Turn chicken and repeat seasoning with oil, dried herbs, salt and pepper.

Pour red wine vinegar and water underneath chicken and place parsley and basil on top.

Roast uncovered in oven 375 for 1.5 hours or until done.

Best if served over rice or quinoa, but a side of broccoli works as well.

MIMMA’s CROSTINI

Ingredients:

1 large onion
1.5 lbs chicken liver
12 oz beef liver
4 tbsp capers
3 oz tomato paste
1 container anchovies
3 hard boiled eggs

Preparation:

Carmelize the onions in large skillet and put aside in a bowl for later.

Hard boil the 3 eggs.

Cut the beef liver into pieces and cook in olive oil over medium heat. Once cooked pass through food mill.

Next cook chicken livers in olive oil over medium heat. Pass through food mill and add to beef livers.

In a food processor, blend onions, capers, tomato paste, anchovies, eggs and half the processed beef/chicken livers.

Fold the mixture blended in the food processor with the remainder courser liver.

Let it cool and then set in the fridge at least 1-2hours, better if overnight.

CARCIOFI (ARTICHOKE) STEW

Ingredients:

1/2 large onion
(2) 12oz frozen artichokes
1/2 fennel bulb
1 cup water
vegetable broth
hot oil (optional)

Preparation:

Cook the onions in olive oil until translucent.

Add artichokes, fennel, water, vegetable broth and hot oil.

Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Lower flame to low and cook for an additional 30 minutes, checking every 15 minutes.

SPEZZATINO (inspired by Mimma)

Ingredients:

2lbs round boneless stewing beef
1 onion
1 can of chunky tomatoes
red wine
2 carrots finely chopped
2 celery stalks finely chopped
salt
1 potato (optional)
1 carrot sliced (optional)

Preparation:

Chop onion and saute until translucent. Add carrots and celery and cook another 5 minutes.

Add beef to pan and cook for 5 – 10 minutes.

Next, add 1 cup of red wine and stir. Once wine has cooked down add can of tomatoes.

Cook stew covered for 1.5 hours on medium-low flame.

CAPONATA

caponata1.jpg

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
3-1/2 cups 1/4-inch dice unpeeled eggplant (about 1-1/4 pounds)
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped pitted green olives
3 tablespoons chopped drained bottled capers
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
3 tablespoons golden raisins
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted lightly
3 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leafed parsley leaves

Preparation:
In a heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately high heat until it hot but not smoking, in it cook the eggplant, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it is tender, and transfer it to a bowl.

To the skillet add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and in it cook the onion and the celery over moderate heat, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Add the olives, the capers, the vinegar, the sugar, the raisins, the pine nuts, and the tomatoes and cook the mixture, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is cooked through and the celery is tender, and transfer it to the bowl.

Stir in the parsley, let the caponata cool, and chill it, covered,overnight. Season the caponata with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

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Photography by Nyaa Birdies-Perch