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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My Seventies Kitchen Episode 10: Mongolian Beef

Before we get started, I think it’s important to note that Mongolian Beef is not a dish from Mongolia. Instead, it’s a Taiwanese classic that is akin to Szechuan Beef, just much less spicy. At the end of the day, the specifics or the origin are unimportant. It’s probably been Americanized to death at this point anyway – all we really care about is the fact that it’s quick and delicious.

I don’t know about you, but the pandemic has definitely affected my level of ambition in the kitchen. Sure, I still get involved in big cooking projects. It’s just a lot harder to psych myself up to start them. I go to the store, buy all of the ingredients, and then end up ordering Pat’s Pizza more than I care to admit. Sometimes I just give a shit WAY more early in the day, before it’s actually time to cook.

This dish is an excellent remedy for this lack of motivation. All you need to do is get the Beef into the marinade, and you can chill for a while. When you are ready, all you need to do is toss some rice in the cooker. Then hack up an onion and some scallions (I like to have ginger/garlic puree on hand for nights like this. I usually pick it up in a jar at the Indian market). Fire up the wok, sizzle up some beef, serve over rice, and good to go. I like flank, skirt, or even hangar steak here – but you can obviously improvise. You can even sub in Chicken if you’re really feeling like letting it all hang-out and flying your freak flag.

If you have a real stove with real fire, I hate you, and I’m jealous. Also, this will come out much better for you than we ghetto electric stove people.

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