Are there any other second semester college seniors out there? I’m guessing there are and that more than a few of you are just like me – getting used to the constant, somewhat terrifying reality that life is going to change big time in just a couple short months. As you finish up your final few classes and attempt to juggle thesis writing, resumé tweaking, grad school applications, job interviews, and apartment hunting, you’re probably going to need —not just want—to procrastinate your final days on campus as an undergrad, before moving on to the “Real World.” And, again, if you’re like me at all, that procrastination will send you straight to the kitchen to cook pasta.
In my book, simmering a hearty pasta sauce is the epitome of comfort and the ideal way to spend a lazy, chilly Sunday afternoon. After enjoying what I thought was the perfect bowl of pappardelle bolognese at an Italian restaurant in Southwest Florida, I went on a quest to replicate that meal at home. After a few unsuccessful (but delicious nonetheless) attempts at other recipes, I found Tyler Florence’s Tagliatelle Bolognese from Food Network and it is and has exactly what I was looking for—a thick meat sauce that is, in fact, more meat than actual sauce—vegetables so finely chopped they’re practically invisible after cooking, an earthy taste, thanks to those porcini mushrooms and the pancetta, and a texture that’s chunky but also able to coat the noodles perfectly smoothly.
Though the recipe calls for tagliatelle noodles, which are long and a bit wider than fettuccini, try experimenting with other types and sizes. Bolognese is a heavy, hefty sauce, so dainty angle hair or petite mezze penne noodles would likely get lost underneath it. However, a robust rigatone can surely hold its own if you’re craving a short shape. Whatever pasta you decide to toss it with, this Bolognese is sure to impress, so give it a try when you need a tasty way to spend a few hours.
Maria Russo is a Barnard College senior and could easily subsist on pasta alone. Read more . . .
Makes 4-6 servings
Recipe from Tyler Florence, Food Network
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, wiped of grit
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped from the stem
1 fresh oregano sprigs, leaves stripped from the stem
1 fresh rosemary sprig, needles stripped from the stem
2 bay leaves
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 cup milk
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, hand-crushed
2 cups dry red wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dry tagiatelle pasta
1 handful fresh basil, hand-torn, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Reconstitute the mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes until tender, drain and coarsely chop.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for 2 minutes to render out the fat. Add the porcinis, onion, celery, carrots, and garlic; stirring to combine. Toss in the thyme, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables are very tender but not browned.
Raise the heat a bit and add the ground pork and beef; brown until the meat is no longer pink, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon. Add the milk and simmer until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and wine; season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and cover. Slowly simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring now and then, until the sauce is very thick. Taste again for salt and pepper.
When you are ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”) Drain the pasta well and toss with the Bolognese sauce. Shower with basil and pass grated cheese around the table.