To me, the simplest food is always the best. Not a ton of ingredients, or super fancy-schmancy techniques or precious presentation. Don’t get me wrong, I like a gorgeously styled dish from time to time. But what I really love – what I crave – is simple, rustic and natural. Like the smokey Italian bolognese that I found in the SPQR cookbook.
Ten Speed Press was gracious enough to send me 2 copies of the book – one for you and one for me! As I mentioned Wednesday, that’s lucky because when testing one of the recipes from the book, I got a giant hunk of sauce all over the page. And let’s be honest, you don’t want my dirty, dog eared copy. But you DO want the book – especially if you like carbs, Italian dishes, slow food from scratch, wine and pretty much anything else that makes life worth living.
If you don’t love carbs, Italian dishes, slow food from scratch, wine and pretty much anything else that makes life worth living, well… Then you probably aren’t reading my blog anyhow. So let’s assume you do.
I’ll be honest, this cookbook may be a little advanced for some. Even as a “seasoned” (get it, salt & pepper?) Italian cook, I found some of the recipes intimidating. That being said, the steps are broken down nicely and if you’re prepared to learn as you go, this could be the right book for you. If you don’t fancy yourself brave enough to take on grinding your own meat or making your own pasta just yet, you can still drool, ogle and thoroughly enjoy this read. And it is a read – the book is loaded with informative recipes, cooking techniques and slow food philosophy. Interestingly, I was totally surprised at how integrated the wine regions were to each chapter. This isn’t a light browse by the seat of your underpants kinda cookbook – be prepared to thoroughly tour Italy, from region to region, glass to fork, and immerse yourself in Italian cuisine.
Overall, I enjoyed it. The same way I enjoy a bowl of really good pasta, incredibly flavorful sauce and a bottle of red table wine. It makes for one happy lady. If I can call myself a lady. If not, it makes for one happy donna. (Donna is the Italian word for woman. Totally had to Google that.)
And this, my friends, was one hell of a good pasta.
Italian Bolognese is pretty much the most famous example of a regional Italian ragu and fairly straightforward to make. Meat, veg and a bit of fat. Easy, right? And as with most sauces, it benefits from a slow, tender simmer and a night in the fridge for the flavours to mingle. Plan ahead, make this. But first, enter to win your own copy of this intensely Italian – and delicious – book. You know you wanna.
I’m not going to lie – I cheated a bit and bought the egg noodles instead of making them. You all know how much I love making pasta from scratch but in all honesty, I just didn’t have the energy to do it with all the unpacking going on around here. It was still phenomenal.
Giveaway after the recipe!
- 1 Package of Broad Egg Noodles
- 1 Lb 5 Oz Bonelss Pork Shoulder, cubed.
- 7 Oz Pig Skin (optional)
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 6 Garlic Cloves, peeled & sliced
- 1/4 C Tomato Paste
- 2 Tbsp Chopped Canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo
- Pinch of Dried Pepper Flakes
- 1 1/3 C Dry Red Wine
- 1 1/4 C Water
- Fresh Nutmeg, for grating
- 2 Thyme Sprigs, 1 Rosemary Sprig, 1 Sage Sprig & 10 Cloves, wrapped in cheesecloth & string.
- 1 1/2 C Soffrito*
- 1/3 C Heavy Cream
- Red Wine Vinegar
- 3 Tbsp Butter
- Fresh Parmesan-Reggiano, for grating
- Coarse Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- In a large bowl, season the pork very well with salt. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Fit your stand mixer with the meat grinder attachment (medium plate) and grind the pork and pig skin together.*
- Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F.
- Heat a glug or two of olive oil in a heavy bottom pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork mixture when hot and brown well. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same pot, pour in another glug of olive oil and when hot, toss in the onion. Season with salt and stir well. Allow to soften (approx 3 minutes). If the bottom of the pan starts to get to dark, deglaze with a splash of water.
- Mix in the garlic and sweat 1 minute more. Stir in tomato paste, chipotle and red pepper flakes and cook until the paste starts to brown (approx 3 minutes).
- Return the pork to the pot and top off with the wine. Bring to a simmer and reduce liquid by 1/3.
- Add the water and return to a simmer. Grate the nutmeg into the pot and submerg the herb sachet. Cover, place in oven and cook gently for 1 1/2 hours.
- As the sauce cooks away in the oven, make the soffritto. Finely chop an onion, large carrot and 2 stalks of celery. A food processor does this in seconds! Pour 1/4 C of olive oil into a non-stick pan over medium-low heat and then add the veggies. Once you hear a bit of sizzle, reduce the heat to low. Season well with salt and allow the vegetables to cook oh so slowly for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Back to the sauce! Remove from the oven after an hour and a half and uncover. Taste - skim away excess fat if there is any. The meat and skin should be tender and the sauce noticeably thicker.
- Over low heat, stir in the soffrito and cream and allow to summer until sauce has a velvety texture (5-7 minutes).
- Taste, season with salt and pepper if needed and add a splash or two of red wine vinegar to brighten the flavours. Remove the herb sachet. Stir well.
- When you have about 15 minutes left in the sauce cooking process, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the egg noodles and cook until el dente (approx 5-7 minutes). Drain and reserve liquid.
- Place noodles back in the pot and when the sauce is ready, place over low heat and spoon the sauce over the noodles a couple spoonfuls at a time, stirring between additions. Add until enough sauce clings to the noodles but doesn't cover them entirely. If necessary, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to keep it from getting too dry. When you've achieved the desired sauce coverage, add a pat of butter. Plate. Top with freshly grated Parmesan, a bit more pepper and serve.
- If you can't access a meat grinder, a good quality pastured ground pork blend will work. Try to get the skin and score the fatty underside with a knife. Cut into 6" pieces and include in the cooking process; It'll add flavour. Remove before serving.
- Soffritto is a mixture of finely chopped onion, carrot and celery.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
* Contest open to Canadian & American mailing addresses only.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Ten Speed Press sent me a review copy at no cost. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions and information is entirely accurate and a reflection of my true experience and was not influenced, in any way, by the above mentioned products. Opinions and views are my own.