We're almost there. As summer makes its final surge through the long, stifling days of August, the promise of brisk fall air, sweaters, dead leaves, and football rattles softly in the subconscious depths of our brains. If we can just endure this final push, cling to whatever sports-related excitement we can as our baseball teams shuffle off into the twilight of mathematical elimination, maybe take our fingers off the OFD refresh button for a minute and think about something else, we might just make it to game day without eating our fists from anticipation first. We ND fans are hungry folk--there's no denying that. We have ferocious appetites, and right now, no matter how busy we are with everything else in our lives, we have time to kill in a sense as long as football is not being played. Therefore, dear reader, I propose this temporary solution: Pasta Bolognese.
Not exactly a dish that screams dog days of summer, I know, but you're seriously not going to care about the weather outside after spending a day cooking this pot of goodness. For an entire afternoon, not only will your home smell amazing, but your skull and brain will have absorbed so much Bolognese smell that you'll find it nearly impossible to think of anything but eating the stuff, which of course is a welcome change from crying in the shower again after reading Eric's Top 75 Worst Losses in Notre Dame Football History series for the tenth time. We also need to put some time, love, and tenderness into our weekend meals before we find ourselves with little time other than to indulge in the standard football fare which we will exhaustively and happily cover once the season starts:
So let's do it. Tell the spouse, kids, roommates, mom, dad, or dogs that you are going to be busy all day cooking for them, and they will gladly give you the space you need to slow cook this sauce, sip on your favorite beverage, and actually enjoy the wait for once this summer.
-1 stick of butter
-6 carrots finely diced
-6 uh things? ribs? sticks? of celery finely diced
-1.5 yellow or white onion finely diced
-1.5 lbs ground beef
-1 lb ground pork
-2 cups whole milk
-750 mL of white wine (I used a white Bordeaux)
-1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
-28 oz can of chopped San Marzano tomatoes
-salt and pepper
-freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
-pinch of chopped parsley for aesthetics if you have it
-pasta of your choosing (below pictured with rigatoni because that's what I had on hand)
First we make our mirepoix by putting a fine dice on the celery, onion, and carrots. If you are a maniac wild animal with rabies in the kitchen like I am, then you try to get every piece as tiny and cube-like as possible to optimize the texture of the sauce.
I do this by cutting the celery and carrots into thin strips first, then by chopping that all up horizontally.
Onions are slightly different but actually easier to dice if you have a sharp knife. If you don't know how to dice up an onion I recommend youtubing it.
Honestly if you have a food processor you can just chuck all the veg in there and pulse it up until it's almost a pulp. That will save you some time and effort, but that's also a bit counterproductive to the spirit of this recipe. But just in case you're wondering, I've made this with the food processor as well and it comes out almost indistinguishable from the hand diced way.
What do mirepoix and the Irish flag have in common?
Okay so it's time to start cooking. In a huge heavy bottomed pot, melt your stick of butter over medium heat.
First toss your onion in there and cook it for about 5 minutes until it's soft and translucent, stirring often.
Next add the carrot and celery and stir and cook until soft, another 5 minutes or so.
Add the ground beef and pork, seasoned with salt and pepper.
Do you have one of these things? It's for mashing ground beef. If you make a lot of Hamburger Helper and don't have one of these things, then find one. I don't know what they're called. We'll call them plus mashers.
So after you mash up your meat with the plus masher and get everything stirred up and cooking, things should start smelling good. When the beef has lost its pinkness, it's time to add the milk.
Simmer that milk but make sure it doesn't start foaming up and boiling.
While that's simmering, grate some nutmeg in there, about a third of a teaspoon.
Now you wait a while until the milk has evaporated, stirring from time to time.
Once most of the milk has evaporated, poor in the bottle of wine. I use about 3/4th of the bottle in the sauce and I drink the rest myself straight out of the bottle whilst pretending to be a pirate.
Again, get it bubbling, and then stir every now and then until the wine has evaporated. This could take quite a while. That's a good thing. Cooking this meal is the kitchen's version of riding the Lazy River.
Finally you add your tomatoes and continue to simmer until all of the liquid has evaporated completely, probably 4 hours. You want the slightest bubble on your sauce, as demonstrated in this subtle gif:
Eventually, as the sands of time mosey by while daylight gives way to nightfall, you will be left with your beautiful, impossibly rich and flavorful ragu Bolognese.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, serve over top of your favorite pasta, grate some parmigiano reggiano over top, and finish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and enjoy. You've waited a long time for this.