Regardless of the date on the calendar sincerely expressing love in your preferred love language is an idea that will sit well with your conscience, so whatever your plans are for Valentine’s Day next Tuesday, you have to eat, so you might as well eat well, and this dish, this Spaghetti Bolognese adapted from Nigel Slater’s recipe in Kitchen Diaries will knock your socks off.
Making the dish a couple of weeks ago when we were in a cold spell of frigid temperatures, I chose a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape to both include in the dish (you will need 3/4 cup of red wine) and pair with the dish that I picked up at Trader Joe’s for fewer than $20. Combining nearly all of the ingredients together in a Dutch oven on the stovetop (the recipe is oh so simple as far as the tasks you need to do), I then left it to slowly simmer away on a low heat for about 90 minutes.
The savory perfume that filled the house as the flavors intensified and the sauce matured provided encouragement to wrap up the day well because I had something scrumptious to savor upon its conclusion.
The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater (the first in the series of Kitchen Diaries cookbooks – there are now three)
Which Pasta to Choose
As you will see in my pictures, I used a thick-in-width pasta noodle, the Pappardelle. You can also use Tagliatelle pasta which is its thinner-in-width cousin AND Tagliatelle is the pasta that originated with the dish in Italy (although, not in Bologna, even though Bologna has used this dish to its advantage, for good reason; the dish actually originated in a small city just outside of Bologna, called Imola, in the late 1700s), but I highly discourage you from using spaghetti noodles. Why? You want to lap up as much sauce on each noodle as possible. This sauce, this classic earliest of ragu sauces, ever created is what makes this dish THE Bolognese, and you need a noodle, a pasta, that can handle the responsibility! So yes, the name of the dish is Spaghetti Bolognese, but use tagliatelle or pappardelle. Your appetite will thank you.
By the way, what is a ragu sauce? “Ragù is a term used to describe a type of meat sauce that has been cooked for many hours over low heat.” Voilà! That is all, but that is what makes this dish so incredibly hearty and delicious.
Now to the dish! Wishing you a delicious evening of savoring, sipping, enjoying and satiating your palette! Bon appétit! Oh! And on that note, yes, this dish originated in Italy, but it has been wildly popular in German and Britain for nearly as long as the dish has been around. Okay, so maybe not in France, but still, bon appétit! 😉
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 oz pancetta use bacon as an alternative
- 1 medium sweet onion
- 2 medium carrot
- 1 stalks celery
- 4 ounces portobello mushrooms (or other flat mushrooms), about 2 portobello mushrooms
- 2 leaves bay
- 1 lb ground lamb (meat of choice)
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes (canned)
- 3/4 cup red wine the same wine you will pair with your dish
- 3/4 cup beef stock
- fresh nutmeg (or from your spice rack)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream/half-and-half
- 8 oz Pappardelle pasta, tagliatelle (your preference), enough for four servings
- 4 Tbsp freshly grated parmigiana reggiano
- Using a Le Creuset dutch oven or heavy-bottomed 10" skillet (cast-iron is a great choice), melt the butter over medium heat and then add the diced/cubed pancetta. Let the pancetta cook until light brown or slightly crispy – about 5-7 minutes (not entirely done, but close). As the pancetta is cooking, chop up your mirepoix (onion, celery, carrots), finely diced as well as your garlic along with large chopped pieces of the mushrooms. Add all of them to the pancetta and follow with tucking in the bay leaves. Leave this to cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring throughout.
- Increase the heat to medium to high and add the beef or lamb, breaking it up into smaller pieces. Once the pieces are broken up, step away from the stove and let it brown for about 4 minutes. Checking on it after four minutes, stir as necessary so that all sides of the meat brown, and then cook until the meat is cooked and brown. Stir as necessary.
- Add the tomatoes, red wine, stock and freshly grated nutmeg (or from your spice rack) as well as salt and pepper for seasoning. Bring this to a boil, then turn the heat down immediately following reaching a boil (just barely seeing bubbles). Turning to medium-low, simmer with a lid placed slightly askew (so not entirely closed as you want some of the heat and steam to escape to ensure a slow cook to keep the meat as tender as possible and absorb all of the wonderful flavors in the sauce. Cook like this for about 60 minutes to 90 minutes. You will need to keep checking it (I begin checking at about 40 minutes), as you don't want the pan to become dry. You want to retain the liquid to some degree even when finished, but the liquid will become much less and a little bit thicker.
- Just before you add the cream (next step), bring a large pot of water to boil. Season generously with salt. Boil your preferred pasta for the designated amount of time and ensure it is al dente. (Note: choose the pasta of your choice. I chose Pappardelle pasta, but you can use spaghetti, tagliatelle or anything else you have in the pantry that you prefer.)
- Now add the heavy cream or half-and-half, slowly. Stirring to incorporate. It will at first cool down the dish, but once the cream heats up, it will begin becoming the sauce you will love. Cook for about 20 minutes. Check on the seasoning. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
- Two options for serving with pasta: (1) add the pasta to the Dutch Oven or cast iron skillet and top with the sauce; (2) place the pasta on each dish and place a serving amount of sauce on top of the pasta.
- Whichever option you choose for plating, don't forget to finish with freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano. Pair with a full-body glass of red wine that has been opened and left to breathe for about 20 minutes or so. I paired the one seen in the pic with a glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape picked up at Trader Joe's. Enjoy!
~Explore all of TSLL’s Recipes in the Archives.