It’s cold, windy & rainy here, sounds like an evening for a dinner of comfort food. My comfort food, of course, leans towards Italian, and what better on a cold, gray December Sunday than a Bolognese sauce? In Italy, I learned to use white wine in my red sauce, because it will keep the sauce a beautiful red color. And, the fruitier the better. Northern Italians, from Bologna, use onions here, but no garlic! The Italians very rarely mix onion and garlic in the same dish.
This is a great recipe to double, and then put into the freezer for those days when there just aren’t enough hours. I usually let he sauce cool, and then ladle it into LABELED zipper bags, squeeze out the air, and lay flat on a tray in the freezer. Then, the flat bag can be ‘filed’ upright, taking very little space, and available for later use. Then, when it’s time to defrost, it takes only minutes!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons chopped yellow onions
- 2 tablespoons chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons chopped carrots
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 pound spicy Italian sausage meat (bulk)
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 cup white wine (Riesling)
- 1/2 cup whole milkgenerous sprinkle of freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 large can crushed Italian tomatoes (I love the Cento brand!)
In large deep skillet or braisier, heat olive oil and butter. Sweat the onion, celery and carrot with the salt. What? Here’s a video to explain sweating vegetables!
When the vegetables are softened, add the sausage and beef, breaking up into small pieces. When meat is no longer pink, add the wine, and raise the heat to high. Cook until liquid has evaporated. Add the milk and nutmeg. Cook until the milk has been absorbed. Add tomatoes, breaking up any large chunks. Cover and braise 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Note: It is imperative that you use whole milk in this recipe and try to use Riesling wine for best flavor. Both the wine and milk must be evaporated before proceeding with the next steps. If you can find only link Italian sausage, remove the casings.
In the midst of making gifts from my kitchen for my friends and family, I wanted to ‘fancy up’ my pasta dinner just a little bit, so I made fresh pasta to go under my sauce. It is so very easy if you have a pasta machine. I like to make the pasta dough in the food processor, as it kneads the dough to a very smooth consistency, making rolling so very quick and easy.
for four servings:
- 2 whole large eggs, plus enough water to make 1/2 cup total volume
- 1 1/3 cups semolina flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- bench flour, for rolling
In food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the flour and salt. Pulse to combine. With machine running, slowly add the egg/water mixture. Process until the mixture becomes tiny balls of dough. You may need to stop here, and
pull the dough together into one larger ball, then return the dough ball to the food processor bowl and knead for 30 seconds. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, cover with an upturned bowl so that it does not dry out, and allow the dough to rest for 15 to 60 minutes.
Divide the dough ball in half, placing one half back under the bowl to stay moist. On a very lightly floured board, pat the other half into a square or rectangular shape, about 1/2-inch thick. Roll on the widest setting of the pasta machine. Lightly flour if the dough is at all sticky, brushing off any excess flour. Fold dough in thirds, like a letter, and roll again, with the folds perpendicular to the rollers. Flour the dough as before, fold and roll. Repeat this process until the dough feels silky smooth, usually about 4 times through the rollers. At this point, the dough is ready to finish rolling. NO MORE FOLDING!
Roll the dough through the rollers one more time at the widest setting. Very lightly flour, as necessary, and turn the knob on the rollers to the next thinner setting, then roll again. Repeat flouring, reducing the roller setting by one number with each time through, until the dough is the correct thickness for cutting. For pappardelle, I usually go with the seventh setting, on most machines that will be a 6 or 7.
Flour once more, then roll up the dough from the short edge, like a sleeping bag or cinnamon rolls. Cut with a very sharp knife into noodles about 3/4-inch wide. Immediately unroll the noodles and hang them or lay
them in a single layer out to dry.
If you cook them right away, use a large pot of boiling water with about 2 tablespoons of salt added. The fresh noodles will cook in about 3 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they float to the top of the water. I usually wait about 30 seconds after floating to remove the noodles from the water.
If you need to store the noodles, you may air dry them and them pack them in an airtight container, or refrigerate them. Use within 3 days.