about bolognese and the love that went into it

pasta bolognese

Don’t let the subpar photo fool you (I’m terrible with indoor lighting). The sauce was fantastic.

All week long, I’d been obsessed with the idea of making pasta bolognese for Saturday night. The requirements for the bolognese were simple: it was to be saucy and so out-of-this-world flavorsome that anyone would slurp up the pasta in minutes, not minding any of the sauce painting the sides of the mouth and chin. Not unsimilar to how a child would eat spaghetti.

I looked high and low for recipes that stood out to me. Trust me when I tell you, people are serious about their bolognese. It is a heated topic. Some people make it with tomato sauce, while others are staunchly against it. Some people swear by white wine, while others say red is the only way to do it justice. Some people curse the use of spaghetti and sing the praises of tagliatelle (which, in spite of using tubini, I can see how tagliatelle is a much better vehicle for a meat sauce. I’m sold on that).

So the wooden spoon was in my right hand, breaking up the pieces of ground beef in the hot pan. There’s something really satisfying about using a wooden spoon, whether I’m browning meat, stirring soup or tossing vegetables. It’s my very favorite kitchen tool and I can probably write an entire blog post dedicated to its versatility (I won’t…probably). Anyway! Here’s the scene: I’m breaking up the meat, a glass of Chianti in my left hand, the delicious smell of beef being cooked in bacon fat wafting through the apartment and Bob looking very relaxed in his swivel chair while telling me stories. It was one of those moments that I wanted to hold on to. I thought, I’m happy. Simple as that. In that particluar moment, I felt loved. And I, in turn, was loving back. I was loving this night, the sauce, my boyfriend, the weekend…loving life, in general.

What is it that they say about the secret ingredient in a dish being love? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the whole premise of the phrase is that love is what makes the food taste so good, right? There’s something to be said for that. I put so much love and care into this meal. It took hours of checking, tasting, adding, salting and wooden spoon-ing. Then again, I loved this meal before I even started the cooking.

As you can probably guess, I ended up with a damn good bolognese. Better than any I’ve made before. It had the slurpy, sides of your mouth quality that I was longing for. Although to be fair, those unruly tube-like noodles didn’t leave me any choice. We finished the bottle of red and listened to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn as we ate. Every once in a while, we like to keep it jazzy around these parts.

pasta bolognese2

Do you want the recipe? Here it is. However, a few notes about it:

I used bacon instead of pancetta. Whichever you choose, don’t leave it out. Trust me.
I excluded carrots (Bob’s allergic) and it still came out great.
The recipe calls for a mix of veal and beef, but I only used beef since it was cheaper and easier to get.
I subbed whole milk with half & half and just used less of it.

Enjoy! Hope you love it as much I do.

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