Thursday, February 12, 2015

White Bolognese Sauce

Sausage and ground beef, dried mushrooms and Portabellas, white wine, onion and carrots and fennel, with a hint of spice from some chili flakes, and finally, cream. None of these ingredients are remarkable but together as "white Bolognese sauce", and I’m not kidding, they are magic. Stand guard over the pot or it will be gone before dinner is served, one “just tasting” spoonful at a time.

I love Tamar Adler’s wonderful book, An Everlasting Meal, Cooking with Economy and Grace, as much for the conversational, evocative writing as for the delicious recipes. Tamar (Dare I call her Tamar? I feel like we are such old friends after spending so much time together.) weaves stories and musings about ingredients and cooking and love and family into a narrative you can get lost in, bookmarking pages of methods to try, and recipes, until when you finally reach the end, you want to start back at the beginning and read the whole thing again, so rich is the prose.

I’d say An Everlasting Meal it is a way of life, not just a recipe book, if I didn’t think that would scare some of you off. But I will say this, it is a writer’s cookbook. And, from me, there is no higher praise.

No-Tomato Bolognese?
I wish this dish had a better name because White Bolognese doesn’t even begin to describe the rich, hearty, mushroomy, succulent deliciousness that is this meaty sauce. I had already packed up some leftover cottage pie for my husband’s lunch the day after I served this. Cottage pie is one of his favorite things so I had saved it for him especially. He said he’d rather take this!

Adapted from An Everlasting Meal, Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler

1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 stalk celery
Olive oil
1 lb 5 oz or 600g pork sausage, removed from its casings
1 lb or 450g ground beef
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly broken with a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups or 360ml white wine
2 cups or 480ml chicken stock
3 large Portabella mushrooms
3/4 oz or 20g dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 2 cups or 480ml hot water
1/3 cup or 80ml heavy cream
Salt to taste

To serve:
1 lb or 450g dried pasta, cooked according to package instructions
Parmesan cheese
Few sprigs parsley

Chop your onion, carrot and celery in small dice. Cut the hard end of the stems off and chop the mushrooms roughly.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a pan that will be large enough to hold all the sausage and meat, with room to stir, and add in just the vegetables.

Sauté until they are soft and the onions are translucent.

Add in the sausage and meat, along with the fennel and crushed red chilies. Break the sausage and meat into smaller pieces and cooked until well browned.

Add the wine and simmer until the pan is almost dry.

Now add the stock and cook until the pan is almost dry again.

Add in the chopped mushrooms, stir well, and let them cook a few minutes to release their liquid.

Chop the rehydrated mushrooms into small pieces and - This step is very important! - strain the liquid through a coffee filter to remove all the dirt and impurities.

Add the rehydrated mushrooms and the filtered mushroom liquid to the pan. Those porcini mushrooms make the most divine liquid. It almost smells smoked.

Simmer until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. Taste it and add more salt, if necessary.

Add in the cream, stir well and remove the pan from the heat.

Sprinkle with parsley. 

Serve over cooked pasta of your choice and top with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.


Disclaimer: The book being reviewed here, An Everlasting Meal, Cooking with Economy and Grace was bought by yours truly. Links to the book are affiliate links.

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