Look closely at these pictures. What kind of business is putting up this display?
I am certain that this a bastardization of ‘true’ Bolognese sauce, but I kind of don’t care. I’ve read about a hundred recipes for this and, based on that, came up with a sauce that incorporates those techniques and adds stuff I like (and it was a great use of my leftover cheese rind!). It takes a good couple of hours, but much of that is inactive time, just needing a stir every so often.
3 T olive oil
soup meat, beef or pork, one large chunk (250 g/0.5 lb)
soup bone, at least one with a good amount of marrow
1 lb (500 g) ground beef and pork
onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 large or two small carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, put through garlic press
4 T tomato paste
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t dried thyme
1 c full-bodied red wine (Montepulciano, Valpolicella, etc.)
1 bottle crushed tomatoes (680 g)
2 c chicken or beef stock
3/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Parmesan cheese rind
pinch salt (optional)
pinch sugar (optional)
1 c cream or whole milk (optional)
In a large, heavy pot, heat oil to medium high. When it just starts smoking, add soup meat and bones, until you get a good sear on all sides of the meat. Turn heat down to medium and add ground meat, cooking until no longer pink, but not browned. Be sure to break up any large chunks.
Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook mixture, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables have softened and shrunk considerably. Stir in tomato paste, distributing well, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add nutmeg, pepper, thyme and wine, stir well and allow to cook down until 3/4 reduced.
Add tomatoes, chicken stock and parsley, stir well and bring to a gentle boil. Drop in cheese rind, turn heat down to medium low and allow sauce to simmer and thicken for at least one hour, stirring occasionally. While simmering, check the marrow bone – when the marrow is softened all the way through, push it out and stir into the sauce. Taste sauce after one hour and add salt or sugar (to taste). If using, stir in milk or cream and continue simmering for 30 minutes to an hour more. When finished, discard cheese rind, soup meat (it will be very tough) and bones. Serve over pasta or use as lasagna filling.
*Most recipes start with pancetta. I thought I had enough meat already, but I imagine it would taste great if you really want to go crazy. The milk/cream is a texture thing. Some people feel it blunts the meaty flavor of the sauce. Nothing could blunt the meatiness of this stuff. I blame the marrow.
We’ve been in Kansas City for the past week or so and have been enjoying local meat. My mother-in-law does these wonderful things called Country Ribs. A quick check at Wikipedia confirms that these probably don’t technically qualify as “ribs” — but who cares? The hard part for reproducing this at home in Germany would be getting the cut of pork necessary. We don’t know how to ask for it in English (other than “Country Ribs”) let alone in German. So maybe we’ll try it with what’s available.
Then bring ’em back inside for the final phase: baking. She separates them by thickness and size to make sure they all bake evenly — typically the smaller, thinner ribs are done more quickly. Douse with a local barbecue sauce, and bake them until they’ve reached the right internal temperature for pork. Yum! Goes great with scalloped potatoes.
We also got a chance to visit with pals Brian and Mikey. Brian showed off his mastery of the art of discada: essentially a Mexican wok made from repurposed farm equipment and any meat you can think of. Start with bacon on low heat, and use the grease it offers up to cook the rest of your meats in stages: loose chorizo, ground beef, steak chunks, even sliced vienna sausages are in the mix. Every time you get a meat partially cooked, spread it up on the sides of the disco, where the heat is less intense, and let it continue to cook. Between meat stages, bring it all back together in the center periodically to chat. Somewhere along the way, before the chilis and onions made their appearance, Chef Brian added the better part of a bottle of beer. A final touch, when we could barely stand it anymore, was a liberal dosage of taco seasoning. Insert it directly into your mouth if you can’t help it, or if you can manage the restraint, spoon your discada into taco shells with your choice of the usual subjects (guac, sour cream, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, salsa, whatever).
Two of which are meat-related.
One of which are rhythm-less feet with a heavy conscience.
Let’s start with that one. Sarah was placing a catalog order this evening and got a Wham! song as her hold music. Which reminded me of this:
Meat Point #1:
That was great and all, but we really needed a way to grill our ground meat creations. Pan-frying wasn’t cutting it. We bought a small portable gas grill. We tried it out today on one of our town’s several islands in the Danube with great success. There were lots of people out enjoying the weather and grilling their dinner along with plenty of dogs pleased by all the resulting smells. Which brings me to…
Meat Point #2
Thanks Aunt Julie for sending this video our way. We’ve been watching it (and emulating it) for days now and it hasn’t gotten old yet.
A few months back, we decided to take the plunge and buy the KitchenAid stand mixer over which we’ve been salivating for years now. There was a good sale at Amazon and we could get it with the European plug, so the timing was right. Plus, we were able to buy the meat grinding attachment & sausage-filling horn from the U.S. for quite a bit cheaper than it would have been here. Then a couple of months later, after much searching, I found a place that would sell us casings in a relatively small package.
With all of these tasks accomplished, there was only one part left: the actual making of the sausage.
The ‘small’ package of casings contained about 20 meters (60 feet!). It might not seem like much for a butcher shop, but for a private citizen with very limited refrigeration facilities, that’s nearly too much to contemplate. Because I wasn’t too bright about it (or in shock at having purchased so much pig intestine), I chucked the whole mess in the freezer when I got it home. Therefore, we had to defrost the entire amount in order to get any off of the wad. So we’ll need to make more in a couple of days, or else forfeit everything we haven’t yet filled (i.e., a LOT). Next time, we’ll divide up the pack before freezing. No reason one package shouldn’t yield a year’s worth of meat-candy.
After getting the salt-preserved casings soaked, pliable and rinsed, it was time to grind and season the meat. We bought about 3.5 kilos of pork (not shoulder like we were instructed – there was none to be had, so we went with thigh cuts), Cliff trimmed the skin and cut it all into grinder-friendly strips, and we ended up with an impressive heap o’ meat.
Next, we divided the ground meat into halves and commenced seasoning. One was destined for Sicilian style sausage and the other for Spanish chorizo. The filling was a bit of an adventure, as I was in charge of filling the meat tray and Cliff was handling the casing. That might not have been the smartest division of labor, as I could have really used his eight inch height advantage to actually see what I was doing. Although, you can see that we worked through it and it turned out pretty well.