Holy Pasta Week, Robin!

by Diane Duane

September 15-19 is 'Holy Pasta Week -- plan your menus now!

Yes, it’s almost that time of year again, and even the Powers that Be are getting out the pasta drainers for the yearly celebration of Their valued colleague’s contributions to the noodlier side of human experience. (And at dinner on the 19th, they all get to Talk Like A Pirate as well! It doesn’t get any better than that. Truly it is said that the music of Heaven is laughter. Especially when the Michael Power starts stumping around all over the place shouting “Arr!” and pretending to have a peg leg.)

In honor of the week, I’ll be making a big batch of a fairly standard Bolognese sauce (this recipe quadruples nicely, so Peter can use it on other pasta when I do the penne with clam sauce later in the week. P’s not really a shellfish person).

Sugo alla Bolognese:

  • 6 to 8 ounces (150-200 g) ground beef – not too too lean, or the sugo will come out dry
  • 2 ounces (50 g) pancetta, minced (or add more beef if you can’t get pancetta. Or else some very thinly sliced bacon.)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 medium-sized onion, minced
  • 1/2 carrot, minced
  • A six-inch stalk of celery, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes or 2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • Beef broth (If you don’t have any, dissolve half a bouillon cube in a cup of boiling water)
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pound (500 g) of pasta.
  • Grated Parmigiano.

If you’re using the pancetta or bacon, mince it and the vegetables, and sauté them in a casserole or Dutch oven with the oil. When the onion is golden, add the ground meat and continue cooking till it’s browned. Stir in the wine and let the sauce simmer till the wine has pretty much evaporated, then add the tomatoes, a ladle of broth, and check the seasoning. Continue simmering over a very low flame for about two hours, stirring occasionally, and adding more broth if the sugo looks like it’s drying out. This works better if you start it in the morning, though, and give it six hours. (Putting it in a slow oven in a pot with a very heavy or tight-fitting lid works fine.) Top the sauce up with boiling water or broth as necessary, but don’t overdo it. It should be quite thick when it’s done.

This serves about four as a topping for main course pasta. For best effect, see if you can lay your hands on one of the bronze-drawn (bronzato) pastas that are rougher-surfaced and hold the sauce better: like these, or these. (Or these from a company in Florida.)  …I don’t think it’s a big deal whether the pasta is organic or not, though of course it’s nice if you feel like affording it. For me, the important thing is the bronze: it really does make a difference. …A salad on the side is nice. Everybody but me, probably, will want a lot of Parmigiano on the pasta (I would expire in an unladylike manner if I ate Parmesan, so the rest of you can pig out on it as you please).

For the wine, maybe a Chianti with some edge to it. Nothing too fancy:  something like this one might do. (Peter is sticking to whites for the moment, as he’s had a recurrence of the male-red-wine-headache thing of late.)

…And at least once during the week, the chocolate (dessert-)lasagna recipe as a diversion (because the FSM isn’t just about long noodles.)

So, as they say in Switzerland:  “En güte!”

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