Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Like many in this country, my background is quite diverse - I'm a mix of a little English, a little Polish, Ukrainian, German, and even Native American.  I'm a true American mutt.  But when it comes to cooking, I am 100% Italian. Or at least those are some of my favorite dishes to prepare, and I think I do a pretty good job with them, if I do say so myself.

Now, I have a lot of family and friends that like to stick exactly to a given recipe.  Well, as I've mentioned before, that's not me.  I always have deviated from the main stream, especially when it comes to cooking.

This recipe is inspired by Mario Batali's Ragu, which I of course had to tweak slightly to my specific taste.  It's a little bit on the lighter side, but still keeps all of its amazing flavor.

Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time: 2 hours

1 slice of bacon
1 carrot stick, peeled
1 medium onion
1 celery stalk, rinsed
2-3 peeled garlic cloves
2/3 lb. of ground veal
2/3 lb. of ground pork
4 oz. tomato paste
1 cup Organic Fat-free milk
1 cup White Wine of your choice

- Pasta of preference (I like to use fresh pasta - spaghetti, fettuccine, or angel hair. Rotini and Fusilli also also good for the sauce because of their spiral shape.)
- Grated Parmesan Cheese


1. Place the bacon in a large saucepan on top of the stove and put on medium heat to cook.
2. While the bacon is cooking, chop up the carrot, onion, celery, and garlic.
3. Once the bacon is cooked and the fat has greased the pan, toss the bacon (or let a hungry helper enjoy it).

4. Add the chopped vegetables to the saucepan and cook in the bacon fat for about 15 minutes, until the onions become translucent.
5. Add the meat and cook all the way through (5-10 minutes), blending in together with the vegetables.

** Optional: prior to adding the tomato paste, I like to drain the excess fat from the meat and vegetables.  Everything has already soaked up the flavor, so this just cuts those extra unnecessary calories. **

6.  Add the tomato paste.
7. Stir around the tomato paste to combine with the meat and vegetables.

8. Add the cup of milk and stir together.
9. Add the white wine, stir, and bring to a bubble.
10. Cover and let simmer on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours.  Stir occasionally.
When the sauce only has about 1/2 hour to go, bring a pot of boiling water (with a touch of salt) to a boil.  Once boiling, add your pasta and cook, noting that fresh pasta cooks in about 5 minutes whereas dry pasta may take about 15 minutes to cook.

Yum - delicious, saucy goodness.
Once the sauce is ready, take the cooked pasta and add it directly to the saucepan.
Blend together to cover the noodles with all of the sauce.
Serve in a pasta bowl, and top off the noodles with a little bit of extra sauce.
Sprinkle it with grated Parmesan cheese, if you so please.
Serves 4.