Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beef, Pork, and Veal Bolognese Sauce Revisited

Bolognese sauce, round two!  The sauce was great last time, but I couldn't help but wonder how the missing ingredients would have changed the flavor.  I couldn't live my life with that uncertainty hanging over my head forever; in my most recent post I'll find out or die trying.

I got the recipe for Beef, Pork, and Veal Bolognese Sauce from La Cucina Italiana magazine's website.  When I made it in July I had to omit the Italian sausage and pancetta, because I didn't have them.  The sauce was still tasty, but I couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like with those two ingredients.  Last week we finished the last of the frozen sauce (from July) so it's time for a new batch, this time with the missing ingredients.

The missing ingredients

I didn't get any pancetta, because I only wanted to shop at Trader Joe's and didn't want to use their cooked diced pancetta.  The recipe calls for pancetta or slab bacon, so I used regular strips of bacon because I am sure to use the remainder before it goes bad.  The sweet Italian sausage comes in one pound packages, but the recipe only calls for 2oz of sausage.  We don't eat a lot of Italian sausage, so I used two of the five sausages or around 6 ounces.  I used another can of tomatoes as well; last time I had a 28oz can but the recipe only needs 14 ounces.  Last time I had to throw away half of the tomato paste because once the can is open it spoils very quickly, but Trader Joe's finally sells tomato paste in a tube.  The extra tomato paste isn't exposed to air so it keeps when refrigerated.

The bacon and sausage are cooked with the battuto at the beginning of the recipe, but first they have to be cut and have the casing removed.  I did both with a pair of scissors; I worked the scissors into the end of the sausage and cut down one side of the sausage as seen below.

Pulling off the casing
Cutting the casing of the Italian sausage

About to add the mirepoix, bacon, and sausage

One of the sausages crumbled a bit as I was removing it from the casing, but the sausage gets broken up in the pot anyway.  I mixed the bacon and sausage with the mirepoix/battuto in the pot, and used a flat ended wooden spoon to break up the sausage and stir it all together.  The flat edge of the spoon will work well to keep the sauce off the bottom of the pot as it simmers.

Breaking up the sausage while stirring
At the end of 25 minutes at medium low heat

I followed the rest of the recipe exactly as in my previous post.  I could smell the smokiness of the bacon as I was stirring the sauce, and it smelled good.  After adding the meat and tomato I didn't stir it quite as often as last time, but still didn't venture away from the kitchen for more than five minutes at a time.  It's good to have something to keep you entertained during this time, so I watched The Lord of the Rings on my computer in German, or Der Herr der Ringe: Die Gefährten.  It's funny to see characters whose voices you know speaking with other voices (and in another language).  Really I only mention it because I wanted to include a video in this post:

The first time I made this we ate it for dinner that night and it wasn't as flavorful as I thought it would be.  It could be because I was exposed to the aromas of the cooking sauce all day long, and because your nose becomes accustomed to smells over time it may affect your ability to taste those flavors.  Because it was so much better the very next day I concluded that it needs an overnight for the flavors to really soak into the sauce.  We tried this new batch the day I made it as well, but I found it to be much more flavorful.  It could be because I subconsciously knew that I had followed the recipe more closely, or it could be that the bacon and sausage actually gave it that extra something it needed.  I'm looking forward to trying this batch again now that it's had some time for the flavors to soak in; I wonder if it will improve as my first batch did.  

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