Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stirring the Pot

source: The NYT

Last night, I made a bolognese sauce. Specifically, I spent an inordinate amount of time dicing/hacking/cursing vegetables to little bits, and then browning them, and then reducing the mixture in milk, and then stirring, stirring, stirring (fine, only occasionally), now and then throwing in some of the red wine I was drinking.

All of this work is for my Khmer colleagues, who I've invited for dinner tonight. I promised them a barang (foreigner) dinner, a spaghetti night actually, though by, the looks of the sauce (hearty, thick), a big rigatoni noodle would be a more suitable companion. I'm not much of a cook, so I laugh at how my good intentions always end up with stressful hijinks over the kitchen stove, late into the night. (I recall, very vividly, one night in undergrad spent making tabbouleh for 40 people. I did not own a food processor.)

I made the sauce last night, hoping the flavors would settle in by this evening. I hope I made enough. I must feed them more bread, just in case. Wish me luck.


5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3-4 tablespoons butter

1 carrot, finely diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

1 celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 pound beef, ground

1 pound pork, ground

1/4 pound pancetta, ground (Note: I used bacon, as pancetta isn't always on offer Phnom Penh.)

1/2 tube tomato paste

4 medium sized tomatoes, sliced

1 cup milk

1 cup dry red wine

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating


In a 6- to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, 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 beef, 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, cooked pasta should be added to a saucepan with the appropriate amount of hot Bolognese and tossed so the pasta is evenly coated. Serve topped with grated cheese.

Serves 4 to 6.

Recipe adapted from Mario Batali.


  1. um, YUM. i have to make this one of these days.

  2. It was a success! Yay. I love it when I don't botch up food parties. The flavors settled in during the night, I think.

  3. good choice! this is my go-to bolognese recipe as well...you clearly have excellent taste :)


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