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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekly Recipes: February 19

Here are two recipes that I didn't even promise! Both are simple, delicious Italian food. Both are almost entirely about good, simple ingredients and technique. Neither are difficult to make and both are absolutely heavenly.

Bolognese Sauce

This is what Chef Boyardee wishes it could be. It's what he wants to be when he grows up. The bonus is that you can make this in larger quantities and freeze the excess, so you have the benefit of the convenience while still having good, homemade food.

I got this recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I love Marcella Hazan. You can never go wrong using her recipes. I modified this very, very slightly and only to accommodate what we usually have at home. We double this recipe to feed our family.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
1 pound ground beef chuck or veal
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine (chicken broth can be used in a pinch)
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, torn into pieces, with juice
1 1/2 pounds pasta (preferably spaghetti), cooked and drained
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table

Put oil, 4 tablespoons butter and chopped onion in a heavy bottomed pot and turn heat to medium. Cook and stir onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat well.

Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat, stir well and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.

Add milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add about 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and stir.

Add wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that sauce cooks at the slowest simmer you can manage.

Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While sauce is cooking, you might find that it will begin to dry out and the fat will separate from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup water as necessary (I use the pasta water, rinsing the can of tomatoes with it before putting it in the sauce). At the end of cooking, however, the water should be completely evaporated and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

Add remaining tablespoon butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side


Crab Linguine with Lemon Cream Sauce

This is my recreation of the dinner Rich and I had in Leavenworth. The restaurant very generously gave me the ingredient list and basic method and I worked out the rest to make for our anniversary. It is quick and easy to make. It is all about the ingredients. And it is delicious. This is a big treat for us, because we no longer live where crab is easily and inexpensively gotten. This serves four easily as a main course. More, if the people aren't so greedily hungry for crab.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 cups heavy cream (get the least pasteurized, without thickeners if you can manage it, cream)
juice and zest of two lemons
1 teaspoon salt (kosher or sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine
1 pound Dungeness crab meat (you can use whatever crab meat you like, but we strongly prefer Dungeness)

Cook linguine in heavily salted, boiling water.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Stir in the heavy cream and heat until it bubbles a little and starts to thicken. Sprinkle in the lemon zest and juice along with the salt and pepper and stir to mix. You don't want the cream to boil or burn, so watch well, stir frequently and reduce heat if necessary.

Drain pasta and add to the pot with the lemon cream. Stir to coat. Add crab meat and mix just to heat the crab. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as you like. Serve immediately. Swoon. Use your bread to sop up the remaining sauce. Or just spoon it up like cream soup. It is that good.

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