Sunday, 18 September 2011
Bolognese Barese (my mamma's Bolognese recipe)
When I was in Italy, last week, I saw my big sister busy, in the kitchen, chopping celery, onions and carrots, in a food processor. I shut my eyes and saw myself, very young, in our kitchen, at home, in Italy, when I was a little girl. My mum always cut her vegetables by hand, on a wooden board and with love. She didn't need a food processor, as she had a very keen little girl whose job was to help and assist the chef! God knows how many celery stalks and carrots I must have chopped and how many tears I must have shed whilst peeling onions every time my mum made a Bolognese sauce!
When we make Bolognese, in my city, we make a healthier version as, together with minced beef, we use a lot of fresh vegetables (in this case grated or finely chopped celery, onions and carrots.) The end result is a much healthier and lighter version of this classic dish.
Contrary to what people in other countries believe, we usually have Bolognese with tagliatelle, not spaghetti!
I made Bolognese, today, as I was in a nostalgic mood... I needed to smell aromas which reminded me of a house, now empty, but still full of voices, songs and laughter, right here, in my heart...
Before I become too sentimental, here is the recipe. Try it: it's healthier than the traditional one and delicious!
4-5 celery stalks
1 medium sized carrot
2 medium onions
10 very generous glugs olive oil
(the amount of oil you use is up to you.
Use a quantity you are happy with)
600 g (1lb 6oz) very lean minced beef
glass of wine (optional)
700 mls ( just under 11/2 pt) passata
600 g (1 lb, 5 oz) tagliatelle
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Before you start, peel the onions and the carrot, then break each celery stalk in half and get rid of the filaments.
Finely chop the three vegetables (you can use a mixer, for this task, or simply a chopping board and a sharp knife) and reserve.
My vegetables are ready
In a largish pan, heat the oil until really piping hot, then add your chopped onion. Stir and cook for about three minutes. When it's beginning to smell delicious, add the celery and the carrot. Again, stir and cook until all the vegetables begin to look translucent (about 5-6 minutes)
looking translucent and already smelling good
You are now ready to add your meat to the base (the fried vegetables.) Do that and keep stirring and cooking, until the meat begins to brown, then, if you have a glass of wine, add it to the mixture and then let evaporate.
The meat is browning in the pan
Finally, you need to add your passata, bring to the boil, turn down the heat and cook for a good 40-50 minutes! Remember that passata and tinned tomatoes are actually raw and therefore they need to be cooked.
All the ingredients are blending together
Keep checking your Bolognese to make sure that it doesn't burn and remember to keep the heat really low. Should your sauce look a bit too thick, add a small amount of water.
My mum always used to put a piece of Parmesan or Pecorino in her sauce... it smelled so good, made the sauce much more interesting and I always got to eat the delicious cheese.
When the sauce is ready, cook your tagliatelle in a large pan of boiling salted water, according to the instructions on the packet, then pour some of the sauce over each serving and top with a very generous sprinkling of Italian cheese. Try it... it's so... buonissima!
Looks beautiful, whichever way you look at it!