Making Memories... and Bolognese!
Nettie’s Bolognese is a recipe that has been passed down through the Vaccarezza Family dating back to a time when they lived in Genoa. My mother would, and still does, make this Bolognese at every holiday or family gathering. Smelling it cooking brings back memories of every Christmas and Easter from our family’s past. It transports me to a time when I was just a kid, sitting at the table with my cousins Casey and Rudy, watching Casey eat one too many helpings of the hearty dish every time.
For this at-home cooking lesson, I will be teaching you how to make Garganelli Bolognese. I personally love garganelli pasta for this sauce because it catches all of the meat and mushroom perfectly in every bite. My preferred brand of garganelli pasta is Rustichelli di Abruzzo.
What it all boils down to here is this: Nettie’s Bolognese, to me, is directly linked to so many memories and times in my life where I was happy. I hope that you can make this, share it with your family, and be happy, too.
Serves 6, Makes 4 Quarts
NETTIE’S BOLOGNESE 1 1/4 lbs. Ground Beef 1 1/4 lbs. Ground Veal 1 1/4 lbs. Ground Pork 4 Stalks of Celery, diced small 1 Carrot, diced small 1 Large Yellow Onion, diced small 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter 2 Cups Beef Broth 1 Cup Chicken Broth Kosher Salt, to taste Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste 1 1/2 Cups Red Wine, preferably hangovers— leftover wine you already have open. 1 1/2 Cups Tomato Paste 1/4 lb. Dried Porcini Mushrooms soaked in water
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat. After the butter has melted, add in your celery, carrot and onion. (This mixture is also known as mirepoix.)
Sautee (or sweat) the mirepoix for a minimum of 15 minutes, or until translucent.
Add the ground pork and veal. Cook until the meat releases its juices, about 6 to 8 minutes. Generously season with salt and a small amount of freshly ground black pepper.
Add the porcini mushrooms and the water they have been soaking in. Cook until the liquid has almost completely dissipated.
Add the red wine, cook until the contents of the pot begin to steam.
Add the tomato paste, chicken stock, and beef stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat down to a simmer.
Cook the sauce at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat and sauce is concentrated, usually between 4 to 6 hours.
When your sauce is almost finished, it’s time to start making your pasta. Though the traditional way of Bologna is to serve this sauce with tagliatelle pasta; to keep it authentic, we also serve Bolognese with tagliatelle in our restaurant. But really, you can use any type of pasta you want... Just don’t tell anyone from Bologna!
TO PREPARE YOUR GARGANELLI PASTA
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat.
Season the water with salt. The water should taste like the ocean— very salty!
When the salt dissolves, add the garganelli and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. A good trick to determining if you pasta is done is to pull out one piece and try it. If you like your pasta a little more al dente, then cook it a little less. If you like your pasta piu cotto— more cooked— then cook it a little longer. But again... Don’t tell anyone from Bologna!
Make sure to reserve some of your pasta water upon draining.
TO MARRY YOUR PASTA AND SAUCE
Meanwhile, place a pan over medium heat and add 6 cups of the Bolognese to the pan.
Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook it until it reduces slightly.
Once the pasta is cooked, add it into your pan with the sauce. Bring the heat up to medium and cook the pasta with the sauce.
Add some pasta water if needed. It’s important to have enough liquid in the pan so that the pasta does not stick. It’s always better to have a little more liquid than less.
Once the sauce and pasta have come to a simmer, turn the flame off and add two small slices of butter.
Stir the butter in with the pasta. The heat of the pasta and sauce will emulsify everything together. This is a very important step! Don’t forget to turn the flame off before adding the butter... Let the pasta do the work.
Before plating, add un po di parmiggiano reggiano— that’s Italian for a little parmesan cheese.