Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This Week's Dinner

During visits to Italy, I’ve enjoyed meat sauces different from those I know in California. Growing up, I often wondered why “meat” sauces I experienced seemed to be mostly tomato sauce. My family packed more meat into theirs than did any restaurant, but tomato sauce still seemed the primary ingredient. Then I visited Italy and discovered wonderful meat ragus with little, if any, tomato sauce, unlike anything I’d ever had. For the record, I’ve traveled from the Swiss border to Rome, but I’ve not yet been south of Rome. I’m told the further south you go, the more tomato-y sauces become.

Yesterday, I made the bolognese sauce I mention in my January 5 post, this time in a Dutch oven, cooked at 225, for twelve hours. I use tri-tip, with a nice layer of fat. I season the meat and then slow cook it with diced tomatoes, chopped red bell pepper, carrots, onion, and a little garlic. The garlic is optional -- I’ve noticed in America a belief that to make any dish “Italian” all you need is garlic, and lots of it. Restaurants often spoil otherwise good dishes with excessive garlic. This is not the case in Italy; in fact, some Italians don’t even use garlic in their meat sauce.

After twelve hours, take out the roast and shred it in a roasting pan large enough to hold all the contents of the Dutch oven, plus cooked pasta. Here’s the Dutch oven mixture, less the roast.

Here's the shredded roast.

I throw some crushed red pepper and herbs de Provence on the meat and then pour the remainder of the Dutch oven mixture over it all. Mix in cooked, drained pasta and let the whole thing sit in the oven for a while on 225, so the pasta and sauce can get to know each other.

This meat sauce is similar in character to Tuscan cinghiale ragu, wild boar sauce, simple and delicious. Here’s the finished product, with shredded smoked fontina, waiting above the plates.

- PJ


Dianne said...

What time's dinner? I'll BE there!

PJ said...

For you, the table's always set!