Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's Wednesday. So, What's Cooking?

Ragu Bolognese, Pasta, and Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Your weather may be a little warm to prepare this meal just yet, but it won’t be long before you’ll relish a hearty Italian dinner. In that case, please save the menu for a fall evening with friends.

Save time for future cooking and double the sauce recipe, then freeze the extra for up to three months, for when you have a time crunch.

Ragu Bolognese
Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
Dry Red Wine – Chianti or Beaujolais

Ragu Bolognese

Makes about 3 ½ cups

¼ pound smoked ham coarsely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
¼ cup chopped carrots
½ cup coarsely chopped celery
5 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
¾ pound ground round or chuck
½ pound Italian sausage in chunks and removed from casing
¼ pound ground pork
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups beef stock
2 tbsp. tomato paste
Mushroom halves – quantity to taste I prefer the baby Bella
½ pound chicken livers
1 cup heavy cream
2 or three pinches of ground nutmeg
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine the chopped ham, onions, carrots and celery on a large cutting board, and chop them together into very small pieces. This mixture is called a battuto, which when cooked becomes a soffritto.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat in a heavy 10 -12 inch skillet. When the foam subsides, add the battuto and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is lightly browned. Transfer the soffritto to a heavy 3 – 4 quart saucepan.

Heat the olive oil in the same skillet. Add the beef, sausage, and pork. Lightly brown over moderate heat and be sure to break up any clumps. Pour in the wine, increase heat to high. Boil while stirring constantly until almost all of the liquid has cooked away.

Add the meat to the soffritto in the saucepan. Stir in the stock and tomato paste. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter over high heat in the original skillet. When the foam subsides, add the chicken livers. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, or until they are firm and lightly browned. Allow to cool on a cutting board a few minutes, then cut the livers into a small dice.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the original skillet. Add the halved mushrooms. Saute briefly. You just want to coat them with the butter, not cook them through.

10 minutes before the sauce is done, stir in the chicken livers and mushrooms.

A few minutes before serving, stir in the cream and heat through. Taste the ragu and season with nutmeg and pepper. Serve on pasta.

Select your favorite pasta. I prefer a Barilla curly pasta as it captures the sauce best.

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Do NOT add oil to the boiling water. Oil hinders the sauce from clinging to the cooked pasta.

Red leaf lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Head lettuce
Tomato chunks
Sliced cucumbers

Plan two or three leaves of each type lettuce and half a tomato per person. Include the amount of cucumber that looks appealing to you. Gently combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover with a damp paper and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Creamy Garlic Dressing
1 ½ cups mayonnaise – it must be real mayo, not Miracle Whip
½ cup vegetable oil
Scant ¼ cup white vinegar
3 tbsp. chopped onion
¾ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
4 big gloves garlic pressed

Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Mix on high until smooth.

Keeps two weeks in the refrigerator. Store on bottom shelf.

To serve either toss with your salad or arrange the salad on individual chilled plates and ladle a dollop on top.

I'll be back Friday with a little more for aspiring authors. Until then...

Mangiare Bene!

Sloane Taylor

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