Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bolognese...with a little help from our old friend, the crock pot.

So...I had this idea to make Bolognese sauce in the crock pot. It's not a quick, dump-and-run kind of recipe, but it's delicious. Using the crock pot helps to develop that slow-cooked flavor without having to tend to the sauce all day. However, you might want to assemble the pot the day before you plan to cook it, as it's a bit involved. But your patience will be rewarded!

The length of the recipe might freak you out a little, but it's really not hard. I have amalgamated two recipes, stealing mostly from Once Upon a Chef, with a little help from Anne Burrell. I think this turned out GREAT! Give it a try...

Fettuccine Bolognese
(Source: adapted from the blog, Once Upon a Chef and the Food Network show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef)

3 ounces pancetta, chopped (or bacon will work)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage
3/4 teaspoon salt (plus more for pasta water)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef stock
28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 cup whole milk
1 pound fresh fettuccine (available in refrigerator section at most supermarkets)*

Optional for serving:
grated parmesan
handful chopped fresh basil or parsley

‎1. Render the pancetta or bacon pieces in a large skillet until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Place onions, carrots and celery in bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Pulse until almost a paste. Add olive oil and veggies to the skillet with the pancetta or bacon fat. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the veggies are very soft and just starting to color. Add the minced garlic for the last minute or two of cooking. Transfer veggie mix to the crock pot.

3. Add ground beef, sausage, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink, 5-10 minutes. Add red wine and cook until liquid is almost dissolved, about 2 minutes. Pour this mixture into the crock pot.

4. To the crock pot, add the beef stock, crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, basil, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Add the pancetta or bacon back in, and stir everything together. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 with the lid cracked open.

5. Skim off any excess fat that has accumlated during cooking. Add milk to sauce. Cover with lid slightly ajar and cook on high for another hour until the milk is fully absorbed. Turn to low to keep warm while you prepare the pasta. Serve with freshly-grated Parmesan and/or chopped fresh parsley.

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