Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sicilian Bolognese

   I was always under the impression that spaghetti bolognese (spagbol) was an invention outside of Italy. (And perhaps it is outside of Bologna.) And also that there was only one way to execute this sauce properly, the method I learned from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by the great author and teacher, Marcella Hazan.   But last night something happened to change my mind..
   Yesterday my mom wanted me to make spaghetti for her dinner, the kind of spaghetti we had growing up, the kind that takes forever to make and which I am not sure how to cook.  The bolognese I am used to making (the Marcella Hazan type) does not lend itself well to spaghetti. For that reason (and others...I wanted to do something different...I was bored.)  I grabbed a few books and started looking for a sauce that used ground beef.  I didn't need to look far.  
   I found a recipe in the book  La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio that I had used a number of times before but I had forgotten about which doesn't require several hours of cooking and which, it turns out, the author recommends for spaghetti as the pasta of choice.  Wow! Sicilian spagbol!  (I'd only ever used the sauce before as a filling for arancini, the tasty deep-fried rice balls so popular at the snack bars in Sicily.)  It worked wonderfully and, what's more, mom loved it.  I'll still make the longer version from Marcella's book but this is definitely in my permanent repertoire!

Spaghetti con Ragú di Tritato

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground chuck
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 cup tomato paste
1- 4-inch parmesan cheese rind
1 medium carrot, quartered
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup water
1 cup beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a pot and add the onion and meat stirring just until the meat loses its pink color.
In the meantime, dilute the tomato paste in the water.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and let simmer for an hour or longer taking care to stir every 15 minutes or so and scraping down the sides of the pot.
It may be necessary to add a little water towards the end if the sauce is getting too dry.
Correct for seasoning, and discard the carrots and cheese rind.

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