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  • Writer's pictureSpira

White Bolognese Pasta from Keri – The Ultimate Comfort Food

Our next recipe comes from Keri.

When Keri sent me this recipe via email she wrote:

“I’ve been sitting on these recipes for a couple of months now. While this is far from the Keto diet. I do believe we all need a bowl of comfort food once in awhile. This is my ultimate comfort food.”

I guess Keri is right, we all need a bit of comfort food once in a while. And if you are gluten sensitive or simply carbohydrate sensitive, I will have a Paleo version of this dish for you next week!

Below you will find Keri’s words:

If you asked me to give up carbohydrates, the main reason I would fail is because I love pasta. No seriously–I love pasta. I often joke that I was either Italian in a former life–or I’m an Italian woman in an Asian body. It is estimated there are approximately 350 different types of pasta – and about four times that many names for them! Throughout Italy, pasta names vary according to the region or the area. Pasta shapes are specifically designed to hold the local sauce in the best way possible. Italy has 20 regions with regional dishes and tastes as different as you would normally find between countries. Search for Bolognese sauce, and I’m willing to bet you will be hard pressed to find two of the exact same recipes! Saveur magazine did a wonderful expose on everything pasta in 2008. Delving deep into Bolognese sauce, this edition really spoke to just how much a single dish like Bolognese can vary by region and chef.

On a cold, wet, blustery Pacific Northwest evening, this dish will surely satisfy and comfort you. My husband and I consumed many bowls of pasta to finally master our own Bolognese recipe. This recipe is an adaptation from Lidia Bastianich’s recipe “Tagliatelle with White Meat Sauce” from the book Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy. My husband often notices how much sauce is bubbling away on the stove and asks, “why did you make so much sauce?” Yes, it makes a lot of sauce–but that’s what your freezer is for. Save and freeze half the sauce for a lasagna recipe or even a quick meal at a later time. If you were feeling particularly industrious, you could make your own pasta. I have found it incredibly satisfying and there is a toothsome to fresh pasta that is unmatched by dried pasta. However, I don’t have kitchen staff to clean up after me. And you need to have LOTS of room to efficiently make large sheets of pasta. I hope to one day have large pasta hanging and drying racks to really get into pasta making. Until then, enjoy the convenience of our superb local markets. As Spring in the Pacific Northwest rolls in, maybe you tuck this recipe away for the colder months. Or maybe you indulge in a bowl of comfort food and a glass of wine. Buon Appetito! Suggested wine pairing: Tuscan Sangiovese—or for more local inspiration, consider a Sangiovese from the Walla Walla AVA.

Ingredients (Makes about 7 cups, enough for 2 batches)

For the Sauce:

  1. 1 pound ground beef

  2. 1 pound ground pork

  3. 1 pound ground veal

  4. 2 medium carrots cut in chunks

  5. 2 medium onions cut in chunks

  6. 2 medium celery stalks cut in chunks

  7. ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  8. 2 tablespoons butter

  9. 4 teaspoons Kosher salt and more to taste

  10. 1 cup white wine

  11. 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  12. 1 ½ cups whole milk

  13. 8 cups very hot stock (chicken, turkey or vegetable broth) *

  14. 2 fresh bay leaves

  15. 1 x 8 oz package Tagliatelle (preferred brand Rustichella D’abruzzo) **

  16. Freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano ***

  17. Extra-Virgin Olive oil for finishing ****

For the Sauce:

  1. Combine the ground meats in a large bowl; loosen, crumble and toss the meats together with your fingers. This is a step you don’t want to skip as it combines the met together and allows the ground meats to brown better in the pot.

  2. Create a pestata *****: Drop the chunks of onion, carrot and celery into a food processor, and mince fine to an even-textured paste.

  3. Drop the butter and pour the olive oil over the pad of butter into a large Dutch oven. This will prevent the butter from burning. Melt over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, scrape the pestata into the pot, season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook and stir until the pestata has dried out and just begins to stick to the bottom of the pain, about 5 minutes.

  4. Crumble all the ground meat into the pan and stir to combine with the pestata. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons more of salt and continue to stir occasionally until the meat has released its juices. Turn up the heat a bit and continue cooking and stirring the mixture as the juice evaporates, about 10 minutes. Careful to not let the meat brown or crisp.

  5. Heat 8 cups of stock. I prefer chicken stock for this recipe. Keep on the stove at a low simmer.

  6. When the juices have all but disappeared, pour in the white wine, bring it to a bubbling simmer and cook until evaporated, about 3 or 4 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile, combine the tomato paste into the milk and whisk to blend. When the wine has cooked away, pour in the milk mixture, stirring, until it has cooked down.

  8. Add 2 large ladles, or just enough to cover the meat, into the pan. Stir in the bay leaves, remaining teaspoon of salt, and bring the sauce to an active simmer. Cover the pan, adjust the heat so the liquid is a stead bubble and cook for 15-20 minutes. The broth will gradually reduce and be absorbed by the mixture. Every 15-20 minutes ladle in two more scoops of broth, recover, and allow the sauce to return to a simmer. Repeat the process until all of your broth has been incorporated. The sauce will gradually thicken and a film of fat will float to the top of the sauce. Don’t throw this out – this is the nectar of the gods and packs a flavor bomb you want in your sauce. The sauce will have cooked for about 2 to 2 ½ hours once all your broth is incorporated.

  9. While the sauce is simmering bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt your water. It should taste like your memory of the ocean when well-salted. Cook the Tagliatelle according to the package directions. Drain the pasta.

  10. Taste the Bolognese and adjust the seasoning. At this time you can remove about half of the sauce for future use. Keep about 3 ½ cups of freshly cooked sauce in the pan to dress the pasta.

  11. Drop the pasta into the pot with the simmering Bolognese sauce. Toss together over low heat until well combined.

  12. Heap the pasta into bowls. Finish with olive oil and freshly grated cheese to taste. Serve immediately with more cheese at the table.

Chef’s Notes:

*Heating the stock is an important step so the cooking temperature is not lowered when combining the stock into the ragu.

**Rustichella D’Abruzzo can be found at Metropolitan Market and QFC. May substitute Pappardelle if you prefer a wider shaped pasta.

***Metropolitan Market sells beautiful chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano. I prefer the sharpness that Pecorino adds to a dish. Both can be found at Metropolitan Market ground for your convenience. Or you can enjoy the forearm work-out from grating the cheeses.

****Invest in a bottle of really good EVOO. This is set aside to finish sauces, grilled meats and for salads or veggies. Most bottles shipped from Italy to the US are from the previous year’s harvest. Read the labels carefully to see what year the olives were pressed. Example, for the year 2018 you should be buying EVOO that was bottled in the fall of 2017. Many places in the US now bottle high-quality EVOO. However, I still prefer those produced in Italy. My favorite website: always has high quality, small-batched, olive oils from all over Italy.

*****Pestata (aka Sofrito) In Italian it means stepped on, trampled on, beat. In culinary terms it refers to a ground mixture. Used in a similar fashion you would use a sofrito, Pestata is typically comprised of aromatic vegetables such as onion, garlic, celery and carrot. It can also include bacon or pancetta along with garlic. A good Pestata must be made in a food processor to create a fine paste that will enable a depth of flavor in a sauce.


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