Recipe Review: Weeknight Bolognese

I recently made the Weeknight Bolognese, from the January 2017 issue of Cook’s Illustrated:

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As usual for Cook’s Ilustrated, there are a number of interesting ideas and suggestions that I will certainly be incorporating into future recipes!

I’d quibble a bit with the title … while a good chef can probably knock it out in an hour, it’s a pretty time intensive hour.  It’s more of the sort of thing that’s POSSIBLE on a weeknight, rather than something you’re likely to actually have time for on a week night, but that’s my only quibble.  As you can see from the picture, it turned out pretty good.

In fact, there’s one additional trick that can make it even faster:

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1 cup mirepoix and 1 cup cheap red wine, available in the frozen foods section of your favorite chef’s refrigerator.

When I run out, I make mirepoix with 2 lbs carrots + 2 lbs celery + 4 lbs onion + garlic + spices.  It’s easier to make it in bulk and freeze it in small lunchbags than it is to make small batches all the time.  And wine actually freezes quite well and is nice to have on hand in cooking-sized quantities.

Be aware, though, that since the mirepoix is pre-cooked, it contains a lot less water than fresh vegetables, and recipes and cooking times need to be adjusted accordingly (in the good direction).

The interesting idea in the article is using a pancetta-mirepoix paste made in a food processor, and then deeply browning it.  Tomato paste is then added, browned a bit, and mixed with the ground beef.  Then the wine is added and reduced, followed by concentrated beef broth and a substantial quantity of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.  The resulting umami-dense concoction is then simmered for 30 minutes, before being tossed with al dente noodles.

They also recommend De Cecco rough-sided egg noodles, which I hadn’t tried before, but really enjoyed.  Overall, a good recipe.

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