Last week we had a little dinner party at our house. Brandon (my roommate’s boyfriend) and I cooked homemade pasta and bolognese for our significant others. In the past I’ve typically made turkey bolognese, but after coming across this video of Mario Batali cooking a delicious looking sauce, I had to try it. I edited a few ingredients to my taste and added some more tomatoes, but the technique was really what made a difference.
Low and slow! I guess I like instant gratification or something because I can throw together a pretty good meat sauce in 30 minutes. His recipe called for cooking the vegetables alone for 30 minutes. He’s a famous chef though, so I figured he was onto something. And he sure was…
Three hours or so later and a few glasses of wine down, we’d finally rolled out enough linguine to give us a good workout and build up a serious appetite. Our guests had arrived and it was dinner time!
We had a tasty wintery salad to start and then dug into that pasta that we worked so hard to make. And let me tell you that it was worth every minute we put into it. I cleaned my plate and ate the leftovers the next day.
It’s sort of crazy to think that we’ve lived here a year and this was really the first small dinner party we’ve hosted where we can actually use the dining room. Past parties have involved numerous guests, which is always fun, but I liked the intimacy of sitting at the dining table with candles lit and lots of good red wine. (seriously, who can complain?)
Moral of the story? Mario Batali knows his shit and I need to host more dinner parties.
Bolognese Recipe (adapted from Mario Batali)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
- 8-10oz. baby bella mushrooms, diced
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- S&P to taste
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, or dutch oven (I use my Le Creuset), melt butter and oil over medium heat. Add veggies and a pinch of salt and sweat for 15-30 minutes. The trick here is to NOT brown them. Mario Batali says if you brown them, toss them and start over.
- Add the meat and mushrooms, season a bit and cook for 45 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Because of the mushrooms there was a lot of liquid at the bottom, so I scooped some out and reserved it in case I needed it later.
- Scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan and add tomato paste. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add milk and scrape up the bottom bits. Add wine and let reduce for a few minutes.
- Add tomatoes, red pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Stir to combine and cover. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Season to taste and remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
- Toss with fresh linguine and grated parmesan.