My Seventies Kitchen Episode 11: Rigatoni Bolognese

There is no exact science to Ragu all Bolognese. There are numerous contention points regarding its preparation. Personally, I die on the inside every time I am served a Bolo at a restaurant that is basically a tomato-heavy “meat gravy.” Most people differ over their choice of meat – it IS a meat sauce, NOT a tomato sauce, of course – some opting for pancetta, chicken livers, ground steak, etc. I can say that my method was inspired by the late Marcella Hazan. I honestly don’t think she would particularly enjoy it, starting with the fact that it is simply too decadent. But that’s what I’m looking for in a dish that I reserve for lazy Sundays because another point that all cooks will agree on is that great Bolognese requires patience. There is not much busywork, but a block of time must be set aside to develop both flavor and the velvety texture that lends itself to clinging to pasta so beautifully. About five hours, prep included, should do the trick.

The choice of pasta is another… conversation starter. Let me tell you that there exists in all gastronomy few things more transcendent than fresh spinach noodles and béchamel to create the famous Lasagna Bolognese. Any great pasta shop will generally require the noodles to be a custom order but be happy to make it for you. Try that sometime, layering sauce, béchamel, and grated parmesan between the layers before letting it bubble to perfection in the oven.

In this case, I will be serving it directly over pasta with grated Parmesan Reggiano. Hazan declares that “There is no more perfect union in all gastronomy than Bolognese ragù with homemade tagliatelle.” I am a Philistine, personally find that it is just as delightful with dried rigatoni or fusilli (which I’ll be using here). Honestly, most pasta shapes would work fine. Maybe not slippery ones like Linguini or silly ones like Wagon Wheels (unless you are trying desperately to impress children).

It is also unnecessary to purchase the very best ingredients for this dish, as it was never meant to be a luxury food, to begin with. I have certain brands that I am partial to, but it’s up to you. 

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