Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pasta Bolognese - Joanne's Savory Summary

I have to admit I met this recipe with a bit of trepidation.  The instructions looked easy enough.  I even consider myself to be fairly skilled in the chopping department.  But whenever I am charged with the task of cooking a signature Italian dish being nothing short of exactly 0% Italian I get a little nervous. 
Lancaster County Farmers Market, Wayne, PA

I thought I would up my chances of success by using the best ingredients I could find in my area.  My husband and I are lucky enough to live down the road from a fabulous weekly farmer's market.  This market features local meat, farm fresh veggies and other treats attributed to farmers and the Amish of Lancaster County.  

Since I haven't been here more than a handful of times, I scoured the market looking for everything on my ingredient list while my husband ever so appropriately got himself a Dutch pretzel.  Employing Jen's tip, I even requested the veal and pork be ground together.  Unfortunately the pancetta was at a different vendor so I had to manually dice that.  Feeling a bit adventurous, I even bought fresh pasta sheets and was instructed to cut them with scissors to my desired papperdelle width.  I figure its a step towards the full pasta making experience.  However, ever a believer in preparedness, I picked up a package of dry papperdelle pasta from Trader Joe's just in case.  Overall, I thought the food store prep aspect of this recipe was simple.

So as I started the recipe, it seemed to be going seamlessly with the chopping and systematically adding the ingredients until it became a simmering mixture.  Plus, the house smelled wonderful.  I left that to simmer for about an hour and a half.  Towards to the end of the allotted simmering time, I decided to take a stab (pun intended) at cutting those pasta sheets.  Surprisingly the fresh pasta was super easy to work with and I had them pared down into strips of varying widths in no time. 

In case of emergency - break seal
Finally it was time to eat!  One thing I must say is that this being my first time making a Bolognese sauce I did not know what to anticipate thickness wise.  And even when I put it over the pasta it seemed a bit watery.  I think this may have been due to the tomato paste I used since I opted for a tube instead of the standard can.  The look of this tomato paste was definitely different than what I've seen in the past.  The pasta however turned out great!  Just 4 minutes in boiling water and it was a perfect texture.  So despite my concern over what I perceived to be a less than ideally thick sauce, I plated and served the fruits of my Sunday afternoon labor.  I even did a Google image search of the Babbo Bolognese which only heightened my concern.  Note to self: never compare your results with that of professional chefs and their professionally photographed food.   

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Pasta Sheets

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Poof! Papperdelle

In the end despite my angst, it was a great dish!  It was flavorful, filling and multi-dimensional.  One bite would showcase the salty, delicious pancetta while another bite would accentuate a garlicky note.  And probably my biggest success was that my husband went for seconds and then even made sure I packed up enough for his lunch on Monday.  Sweet victory from one of the world's most finicky eaters!
The Delicious After!

Overall I would consider this a successful first attempt at this dish and something I will definitely make again.  

Happy cooking!!

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