Fall is the time of year when I like to make meals that sit on the stove top for hours at a time. During summer, our family is usually outside enjoying warm weather, the pool, and usually the grill…less clean up!!
Today’s post is Mezzi Rigatoni Bolognese! Many people wonder about the selection of pasta for a given sauce or preparation. The choice of Mezzi Rigatoni stems from our family constantly cutting the larger full-sized rigatoni into smaller bites. Mezzi Rigatini eliminates all that hard work! (Sarcasm is a service I provide for free).
This recipe is adapted from Lidia Bastianich’s “Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen”.
Step one is browning the ground beef and pork…I do this one pound at a time so the pot is not overcrowded…(We are using a Dutch oven here which allows for browning and is great for heat retention at slow cooking temperatures). Smash the meat to break it up with a potato masher and don’t forget to season!
Browning achieved! Now, scoop out the meat but leave the rendered fat in the pan to brown up the sofrito.
I start by making a sofrito from the Carrots, Celery, Garlic, and Onions…
I process the vegetables together to create a fine mix of the vegetables then squeeze out the water to enable better browning of the vegetables in the Dutch oven.
Once processed, squeeze out the water into a bowl – BUT KEEP THE LIQUID! (Pro tip, we will add it back later)
Brown the ground sofrito to enhance the flavors of the vegetables…
Leaving the SEASONED sofrito in the pan, add the tomato paste and cook it out until all the oil in the pot is absorbed…a. minute or two…do not burn it!
Then I deglaze with 2/3rds of a bottle of drinkable $10 cabernet making sure to scrape up all of the brown stuff stuck to the bottom of the pan…my favorite for this meal is Murphy-Good, but it can be hard to find.
Next, add all of the meat back to the pot, two 28-ounce cans of processed good quality san-marzano (DOP only!), the sofrito water from the picture above, and bay leaves. I add water until my ancestors tell me to stop…the meat and vegetables should be comfortably covered with liquid as they will cook down over the next three hours or so. Put the lid on slightly agar so the steam can release…stirring every half-hour or so. After the first half hour, test the flavor for seasoning
The timing on this picture the chef got distracted and put together the rest of the meal; however, it is a good frame of reference for what the meat should look like after the 3 hours have passed. Shave in the nutmeg using a microplaner…I have a heavy hand with the nutmeg and like the flavor coming through in the final dish.
When the bolognese if in this stage, I remove the amount required for the meal we are sharing that night and add heavy cream, cooking that down for about ten minutes….I look for a dish in my memory that I enjoyed while working in the World Financial Center at the turn of the millenium at a restaurant called Coco-Bistro. Here is my best effort at replicating that dish!! Enjoy!!