Friday, July 17, 2015

Tagliatelle Bolognese 101 and The Known Unknown - Alexandria (Fri 17Jul 2015)

Plated Up - Fuel and Courage for 35km paddle tomorrow - Alexandria (Fri 17 Jul 2015)

Now we know what Pluto looks like after knowingly not knowing for quite a while now (a great read about the significance of this here at ribbonfarm ). So on a slight less significant level, here is what I know now, that I did not knowingly know back 13 months ago...

Just on 13 months ago I found a passion for cooking. A new kitchen and a little help from Michelle and I was on my way. One of the dishes Michelle suggested was a spaghetti bolognese.

I thought that would be an easy start, so went to Google to find a recipe, as you do. This is the one I liked the most from all the ones I read back then:

I liked the authenticity of ingredients, the correctness and approval from Bologna - a place we were heading to on the way to the World Club Crews in Ravenna a few months later.

I have cooked this recipe almost every second week for a year now. And all modesty aside (you know me), the one I cooked this last Monday was perfecto, with a hand and fingers rising from my mouth.

Indeed the recipe looked simple and my first efforts did not excit me that much and I thought to myself where was I going wrong? I have learnt that a recipe is just a starting point and that to make it work and indeed, great, like anything in life, you have to experiment, listen and learn from others, take risks, knowingly or unknowingly.

These are just some of the things I have learnt:

  • I tried different ingredients from different places and found the best ones.

  • Brown onions are much better than white onions, they help give you a nice brown sauce.

  • Finely cut the carrots and celery rather than coarsely cut - a lot of experimenting to work that one out. Your preference might be different, but finely cut works best for me.

  • The cheaper the cans of tinned diced tomatoes are, the better they are.

  • A couple of diced real tomatoes add so much to a couple of cheap tins of diced tomatoes.

  • You need a good can openner.

  • Best mince is not the best for a bolognese and that a 50-50 combination of best mince and normal mince is best - a little fat goes a long way in taste and texture. I found this one out by mistake, as my usual and preferred butcher had virtually run out of best mince that day, so I topped it up with the normal mince.

  • Browning and slightly burning the Pancetta on the pan base, also adds a browness and richness to the sauce. Just keep stirring it into the olive oil as you are browning it.

  • Only add the red wine (and again cheaper the better) after the mince has been browned. Then make sure to take the time to boil it down without a lid until 30% has boiled away.

  • As suggested in the article, a big thick pasta like tagliatelle is best. Beats spaghetti and even fettuccine by a long way.

  • A little olive oil in the pasta makes it less sticky and easy to handle when serving up (Thanks to Darren and his Mum for that one).

It has taken 13 months to work all this out and I am so pleased with what I have learnt. Feel like I could enter World Bolognese Champs mentioned in the article and give it pretty good shake.

So as New Horizons speeds past Pluto into the outer Solar System and beyond, to make more of the unknown known, I will continue my quest to know more, master and perfect what I don't already know about Tagliatelle Bolognese 101.

Ready to Go - Alexandria (Mon 13 Jul 2015)

Simmeringly Good - Alexandria (Mon 13 Jul 2015)

All done... - Alexandria (Fri 17 Jul 2015)

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