Weeknight Pasta Bolognese
 
from cook's illustrated 
serves 4 to 6 
 
sweet white wines such as riesling, gewurztraminer, and even white 
zinfandel work especially well with this sauce. to obtain the best 
texture, be careful not to break up the meat too much when cooking it with 
the milk in step 4. with additional cooking and stirring, it will continue 
to break up. just about any pasta shape complements this sauce, but we 
like spaghetti or linguine in particular. 
 
1/2 oz.  dried porcini mushrooms
1-1/4 cup  "sweet" white wine (see note)
1/2 small  carrot, peeled and chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 small  onion, chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/3 cup)
3 oz.  pancetta, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can  (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice
1-1/2 Tbsp  unsalted butter
1 small  garlic clove, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 1/2
tsp 
1 tsp  sugar
1-1/4 lb.  meatloaf mix (or equal amounts 80 percent lean ground beef, ground
  veal, and ground pork)
1-1/2 cup  whole milk
2 Tbsp  tomato paste
  salt
1/8 tsp  ground black pepper
1 lb.  pasta (see note)
  grated parmesan, for serving
 
cover porcini mushrooms with 1/2 cup water in small microwave-safe bowl; 
cover bowl with plastic wrap, cut a few steam vents with paring knife, and 
microwave on high power for 30 seconds. let stand until mushrooms have 
softened, about 5 minutes. using fork, lift porcini from liquid and 
transfer to second small bowl; pour soaking liquid through mesh strainer 
lined with paper towel. set porcini and strained liquid aside. bring wine 
to simmer in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat; reduce heat to 
low and simmer until wine is reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 20 minutes. 
set reduced wine aside. meanwhile, pulse carrot in food processor until 
broken down into rough 1/4-inch pieces, about ten 1-second pulses. add 
onion; pulse until vegetables are broken down to 1/8-inch pieces, about 
ten 1-second pulses. transfer vegetables to small bowl. process softened 
porcini until well ground, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl if 
necessary. transfer porcini to bowl with onions and carrots. process 
pancetta until pieces are no larger than 1/4 inch, 30 to 35 seconds, 
scraping down bowl if necessary; transfer to small bowl. pulse tomatoes 
with juice until chopped fine, 6 to 8 one-second pulses. heat butter in 
12-inch skillet over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, add pancetta 
and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 2 minutes. add 
carrot, onion, and porcini; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables 
are softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. add garlic and sugar; 
cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. add ground meats, breaking meat 
into 1- inch pieces with wooden spoon, about 1 minute. add milk and stir 
to break meat into 1/2-inch bits; bring to simmer, reduce heat to medium, 
and continue to simmer, stirring to break up meat into small pieces, until 
most liquid has evaporated and meat begins to sizzle, 18 to 20 minutes. 
stir in tomato paste and cook until combined, about 1 minute. add 
tomatoes, reserved porcini soaking liquid, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper; 
bring to simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium and 
simmer until liquid is reduced and sauce is thickened but still moist, 12 
to 15 minutes. stir in reduced wine and simmer to blend flavors, about 5 
minutes. meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in 
stockpot. add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook 
until al dente. drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, and return 
pasta to stockpot. add 2 cups sauce and 2 tablespoons pasta water to 
pasta; toss well, adding remaining pasta water, if necessary, to help 
distribute sauce. divide pasta among individual bowls and top each portion 
with about 1/4 cup remaining sauce. serve immediately, passing parmesan 
separately. 
 
tasting lab: parmesan cheese 
 
is parmigiano-reggiano, at $14 per pound, worth the price? or are cheaper, 
domestic parmesans good alternatives? to find out, we tasted a total of 12 
difference cheeses: five pregrated parmesan cheeses (domestic and 
imported), three wedges of domestic parmesan, one wedge of grana padano 
and one of reggianito (both hard cheeses, similar to parmesan), and two 
wedges of parmigiano-reggiano (a certified name indicating that the cheese 
is from a specific region of northern italy). 
 
parmigiano-reggiano had a depth and complexity of flavor and a smooth, 
melting texture that none of the others could match. of the other 
parmesans, one scored well enough to be recommended: wisconsin-made 
digiorno. if you can afford it, buy parmigiano-reggiano. if not, we 
recommend digiorno. 
 
 
 
portioning tomato paste recipes often call for only a tablespoon or two of 
tomato paste. unfortunately, the rest of the can often ends up turning 
brown in the refrigerator and then being discarded. several readers sent 
us versions of this useful suggestion. 
 
open both ends of the tomato paste can. remove the lid from one end and 
use the lid at the other end to push the paste out onto a sheet of plastic 
wrap. (this method can also be used remove other solid ingredients, such 
as frozen juice and almond paste, out of cans.) wrap the tomato paste in 
plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. when the paste has frozen, you 
can cut off only as much as you need for a particular recipe, then return 
the frozen log to the freezer. 
 
heating a pasta bowl to easily heat a large serving bowl for pasta, place 
a colander in the bowl, pour the pasta and water into the colander, and 
let the hot water stand in the bowl for a few seconds to heat it. then 
pour out the water, add the pasta and sauce, toss, and serve. 
 
 
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-- 
(ID: 13919) Mirror: rec.food.recipes: Mon, Mar 10, 2003


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