It has been exactly 4 weeks since the death of my mother and some of my favorite memories of her are around food. She graduated as a registered nurse, practicing just a year until her marriage and pregnancy with me, her oldest of a brood of seven. As we sorted through her things, I came across her nutrition class notes. Those principles stayed with her as one of her highest priorities was nourishing us with homegrown food. Our parents planted a huge garden each spring, and summer brought weeding, shelling, husking, snapping and freezing on a Laura Ingalls Wilder scale.
We especially appreciated her love of baking and I will be sharing our most treasured treats in the coming weeks. Today I am going to start with an homage to her way with hamburger. As many moms on a budget, she offered ground beef in various guises. One of my favorite “recipes” was what she called “Poppy Seed Stuff” that contained cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and yes, poppy seeds. I will spare you the details, but in her memory, I am going to share with you my favorite way to use ground meat: Bolognese.
Almost year around, I have a serving for two stashed in my freezer, so dinner can be ready in the time it takes to cook some pasta and dress a salad. I’ve tried several Bolognese recipes and my favorite is from Mario Batali as found on Food Networks website. I substitute one pound of ground dark turkey meat and one pound ground beef for the veal and pork. Why? Because that is what I can easily get at Weaver’s Way and I think that it healthier, though delicious nonetheless.
This recipe says that it feeds four, which gives a huge serving per person, so adjust according to the appetite of the lucky people you are serving.
Ragu Bolognese - Recipe courtesy Mario Batali
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 carrot, finely, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 rib celery, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 1 pound veal, ground
- 1 pound pork, ground
- 1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, ground
- 1/2 tube tomato paste
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan-Reggiano, for grating
In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned. Add the tomato paste, milk, and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat.
When ready to use, the cooked pasta should be added to a saucepan with the appropriate amount of hot ragu Bolognese, and toss so that the pasta is evenly coated by the ragu.