Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Penne Bolognese

We know what your thinking. You looked at the name and thought "pasta again?" Darn right you did. And you liked it when you glanced down the post and found Beef and Bacon on the list. Beef and bacon in a penne bolognese dish. That makes this dish the best pasta dish ever. Which is why this dish is a regular in the Petruno household, Eric requests this hearty pasta on almost a weekly basis and Charisse of course never complains about it. Charisse learned to make homemade sauce from her grandma Butera, and Eric learned from his mother. We perfected our sauce together while we still lived in San Francisco, and Charisse has since dug deep into her Italian heritage (and close proximity to her Italian grandma growing up 10 houses down the street living off of homemade meatballs, cookies and pizza as a kid) to make this the best sauce ever. Charisse's Grandma grew up in Campbell Ca and was raised by her Sicilian born parents. This is the source of her Italian cooking roots which she thankfully passed along to Monica and Charisse.

Now about that penne bolognese. The best part about a pasta like this, is you can really experiment with it. Try different kinds of meat, different spices and different shapes of pasta. In this dish we went with a combination of bacon and good quality ground chuck, but have also used ground lamb or ground turkey which gives a twist to the dish. One of these days we are going to try a duck bolognese. Eric seems to always request a Duck dish whenever the San Jose Sharks play Anaheim.
Generally traditional bolognese sauces usually call for chopped celery as well, but we all know that Charisse is not a celery fan so we said forget it. Serve this sauce on a cool night over a thick pasta that will stand up to the bolognese, lots of romano cheese and a side salad or some crusty bread, and don't forget the big italian red wine (Eric's favorite is a Chianti Reserva)!

Pictures and Recipe after the break

Penne Bolognese
What You Will Need

8 slices of bacon (chopped)
1 medium onion (diced)
3 medium carrots (diced)
4 cloves of garlic (diced)
1lb. good quality ground chuck (you may also grind your own if you have a meat grinder)
1 29 ounce can of all natural tomato puree (you can use crushed tomatoes if you like tomato chunks in your sauce)
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup red wine ( 1 glass for yourself! hehe)
large handful of each: fresh basil, fresh parsley (diced)
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs sugar
pinch of cayanne pepper
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

In a large dutch oven, render the chopped bacon until crispy. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel, pour out all but 2 Tbs of fat out of pot (don't forget to save your fat people!)

Through into the pot your carrots, onions and celery if using and cook on medium until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add in the ground beef using a wooden spoon to break up the meat into small pieces, the trick here is to constantly turn and stir the beef so is all cooks evenly. Once the meat is cooked, add the bacon back into the pot and then add your wine and using your wooden spoon de-glaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown meaty bits.

Pour in your tomato puree and stir to combine. Add the fresh herbs and all the spices. Cook until heated through and let simmer for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Cook your pasta al dente and set aside

While your pasta is cooking, add the cream to the sauce and heat through. Salt and pepper to taste and mix the pasta right into the sauce. Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and tons of freshly grated romano cheese.

 A foodiesa@home original recipe

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