Ohhhhh pasta, you delicious little carb nuggets. I can't get enough of the stuff. I have to admit, I didn't always love pasta. I grew up on Kraft Mac & Cheese and while most people don't really consider that a pasta, it was definitely my reference point. Then, one glorious summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Italy. In less than three weeks I gained close to 15 pounds. 15 glorious pounds. I had never, EVER eaten that well nor have I since. This recipe is the closest I've come to re-creating the classic bolognese sauce that I adored so much.
The foundation is finely diced onion, garlic, carrot and celery. You can already tell this is going to be good, amiright?
After cooking down, next up is spices: basil, thyme, oregano and the classics - salt & pepper. At this point your kitchen smells ridiculously good. But the key, as I discovered, to bolognese is browning EVERYTHING. Brown the vegetables. Brown the meat. Brown the tomato. After cooking (and stirring constantly) for 20 minutes your left with this:
Anything after this would be good, but especially delectable? BEEF. Browned, of course.
And after the addition of tomato paste (subsequently browned), red wine and diced tomatoes you're left with this incredibly rich sauce:
But we're not done there. Up next: time - lot's of it (... 4 hours - DON'T get discouraged! this is really, REALLY worth it). It's a game of covering with water & reducing down, over and over and over again...
All things good come from that pot. It's incredibly rich and meaty. And, it's perfect with rigatoni.
This dish is one of my favourites - and it's perfect for crowds. Plus... it's ripe with all kinds of nostalgia.
I think part of my extreme nostalgia for that trip (and all things pasta) is due in part to the company I got to share it with. My younger brother Jared (the strapping young man below) and two of my closest friends, Kim and Patrik (two people I hope to rope into contributing to this blog...). All amazing people, all avid eaters. Needless to say, we get along quite well. We were lucky enough to see Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre and Venice - but, to be honest - it wasn't long enough. Italy, I'll be back.
You're probably less interested in these photos compared to THESE photos. THE FOOD. The glorious, delicious, can't-get-enough Italian food that we ate like chowhounds. I visit these photo's freeeeeequently, I hope you enjoy them.