Saturday, July 2, 2011

OK, Carb Lovers, Listen Up.

Do I have everyone's attention?  Good.

This here is the best dang pasta Bolognese you'll ever have.  Ever.  The only other Bolognese I've had that even comes close was at Michael Chiarello's restaurant, Bottega, in Yountville, California.  That was some great Bolognese, too.  Well, it was great until I mistook the kosher salt on our table for Parmesan cheese and dumped it all over the top.  Mmmm, I like me some Parmesan cheese on my pasta.  And, yes, I can be an idiot.  But you know what?  I finished that Bolognese anyway.  That's how good it was.  And this one is even better.

I find this Bolognese tastes best when a hot guy spends an afternoon making it for you, so that when you walk in the door in the evening you are greeted with the delicious smells of tomato, onion, garlic and all the other goodness it contains.   But I'm sure it pairs just as nicely with the satisfaction of having made it yourself.  I've just never gone that route personally.

The hard training portion for each marathon culminates with a 22-mile run, and Brad always makes pasta Bolognese for me the night before that run.  I'll never give up running marathons, just so he'll keep making this for me.

Pasta Bolognese
Each time Brad makes his Bolognese sauce he does something a little different.  This time when he was shopping for ingredients he saw the market had fresh Porcini mushrooms, so he added some of those.  He usually uses only dried Porcini mushrooms, and the results are also very good.  So don't stress if you don't come across fresh Porcini mushrooms.

For those paying close attention, that is Parmesan cheese grated over the top of the pasta, not kosher salt.  You'll like it better that way.  Trust me.

Brad prefers to serve his Bolognese with tagliatelle pasta, which is strangely hard to find in grocery stores.  Believe me, I've looked.  Everywhere.  So now he just makes his own pasta, which really doesn't take that long and makes the dish even better.  

That's Brad, rolling out the pasta.  Look how fast he is; it was impossible for me to take a picture where his cranking arm wasn't all blurry.  And I'm an expert photographer with state-of-the-art camera equipment.  Seriously.  Um, really.

When I'm only allowing myself one glass of wine because of a high-mileage run the following morning, it has to be a good one.  Robert Sinskey Vineyards makes a fantastic red blend called Point of View, or POV.

The Tasting Notes on their website say it's impossible to stop at one glass of this wine.  But fortunately I have super-human stopping abilities.  That and memories of high-mileage runs spent sweating out too much wine.  Not fun.

There's also a groovy POV video on the homepage, in which Rob Sinskey talks about the vineyard's organic and biodynamic approach to winemaking.  So drink a great wine and feel good about how it's made.

Fresh Tagliatelle Pasta
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Semolina flour
3 eggs
Dash of salt
1 Tbs olive oil

1. Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl to incorporate.
2. Pour the flour/salt mixture onto a clean work surface (avoid granite as it can be too cold) and form a well in the middle.  Make sure the sides are high enough to hold three eggs.
3. Break the three eggs into the well in the flour and add the olive oil in with the eggs.

4. Slowly stir the eggs with a fork to break the yolks.  Continue stirring and slowly expand to incorporate flour.
5. Once the texture gets to the point where you can no longer stir with the fork, use your hands to incorporate the rest of the flour.  Knead until the mixture forms a dough.  The dough should not stick to your hands or the work surface.  Add more flour in small increments if necessary.
6. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit 30 minutes.
7. Follow the instructions in your pasta maker to make the final pasta.  Tagliatelle or Pappardella work best with the Bolognese.

Bolognese Sauce
1 oz dried Porcini Mushrooms
4 Tbs Butter
8 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup finely diced onion
½ cup finely diced carrot
½ cup finely diced celery
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 oz Pancetta chopped
1 cup chopped fresh Porcini Mushrooms*
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
¾ lb ground pork
¾ lb ground beef
¾ lb ground buffalo
Portugese Sea Salt (Kosher salt will also work)
1 cup red wine
1 cup reserved water from soaking the dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 ½ cups whole milk
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 – 28 oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes  (pour into a bowl and crush with your hands)
Parmesan Reggiano cheese

*  Cremini mushrooms will also work, or you can use all reconstituted dried Porcini mushrooms.

1. Place dried Porcini Mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 1 cup hot water.  Cover and set aside.
2. Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add butter and olive oil.
3. Once the butter has melted, add the onion and Pancetta.  Cook until the onion just starts to turn brown, stirring often to avoid burning.  About 7 minutes.
4. Add the carrot, celery and garlic, and cook until softened.  About 5 minutes.
5. Add the fresh and reconstituted (reserve water) Porcini mushrooms and rosemary.  Stir to incorporate and cook 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Add the pork, beef and buffalo.  Break apart using the back of a wood or metal spoon and cook until the meat just starts to brown, stirring to mix in with the vegetables.
7. Add the wine and water from the dried Porcini mushrooms, and stir.  Boil until the wine and water has almost completely evaporated.  Stir occasionally.
8. Reduce heat to medium, add the whole milk and nutmeg; boil until almost evaporated, stirring occasionally.
9. Add the tomatoes, stir and reduce heat to very low (as low as possible).  Cook for 3 hours, uncovered, or until the juices from the tomatoes have nearly evaporated or it’s reached your desired consistency.  Stir every 45 minutes to an hour.  Avoid the temptation to stir too frequently.
10. Ladle the Bolognese on top of the pasta and add grate the Parmesan Reggiano cheese on top.  Eat and enjoy!

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