Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

By on February 21, 2018

Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce Two Ways: Easy and Hard
Fast and Slow, but always delicious.

Yesterday, I swung by Walmart searching for dog toys to amuse the new big galoot of a puppy I got last week. Moving fast, I swung by a display of rigatoni noodles, .88 for a pound. What could be wrong with that?

I knew I had some good marinara sauce in a jar, as well as some Italian Sweet Sausages in the freezer. Looked like dinner to me.

I love Bolognese Sauce and have made it about a million times, so I snatched up an onion, carrot, and celery stalk to start the sauce. Yes. I had some good California canned tomatoes from Muir Glen.

I had white wine, I had milk, I had fresh basil in a pot. Why not just make a real from-scratch Bolognese sauce. It’s just so satisfying to let that sauce simmer along slowly.

And that would give me time to play with the puppy in the back yard while the sauce simmered away.

All I needed now was a big pot of boiling water, a skillet to make the sauce and dinner would soon be done. Or not. Depending on whether I made that Bolognese sauce from scratch, or just popped open that big jar of ready made sauce in the pantry.

I can get easily lured by the zen pleasure of chopping vegetables, so without even a moment’s thought I was soon chopping the vegetables into small pieces, sweating them in olive oil, then adding the Italian sweet sausage and letting that cook down.

Next, I added about ½ bottle of leftover white wine, then an equal part milk and let that cook.

This gave me time to play with the dogs. Of course, they were so entranced by the smells at the stove they would not even leave the kitchen. So much for my ideas about brisk games in the backyard of fetch. Even the big galoot of a puppy had little interest in the new toys I had bought. He’s learning from the old dogs. Hang around the kitchen long enough and you’ll get fed.

Doing things the right way, I made that sauce slowly and lovingly and let it simmer a few hours, adding drinks of water if it seemed to get too thick.
Cooked the pasta barely 10 minutes in a rolling boiling water bath, so that it was still al dente. Drained and tossed it with the sauce.

While all that cooked, I read the paper, and did the crossword. When it was all ready, I served it up, a bowl for me, a bowl for each of the dogs.
They were lying around the kitchen floor in a kind of dog pleasure stupor.

We ate our dinner, they did their best to make cleanup up a breeze by licking their bowls clean, Popped it all in the dishwasher and put away the leftovers which I have promised them for lunch today.

Big Galoot got around to an interest in the new dog toys about 2 in the morning when he began chasing them around the bedroom, leaping nimbly from floor to bed to heaven. The old dogs and I just scratched our heads. What were we thinking getting a new puppy? Maybe it was the Bolognese gave him such a flash of energy in the middle of the night.

By morning, he is settling in for a long nap and the rest of us feel slightly hung over. So it goes in Puppy heaven.

Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

Makes 8 servings

The easy way is to cook rigatoni in a pot of boiling water following box directions, then drain and mix with a large jar of ready-made Bolognese Sauce. Dinner is ready in under twenty minutes.

Who are we kidding? Where’s the fun in that? Here’s the real way to make a Bolognese Sauce, from instructions I had from Marcella Hazan. \\
Now that is cooking.

Marcella Hazan inspired Bolognese Sauce

Makes 2 cups

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing pasta
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
2/3 cup finely chopped carrot
1 pound ground beef OR Italian sweet sausage
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
1 pound dry rigatoni pasta cooked until tender, 10 minutes in a pot of boiling water, then drained
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

1. Put the oil, butter and onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.

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

3. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating – about 1/8 teaspoon – of nutmeg and stir.

4. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt and pepper

5. Toss with cooked, drained pasta, adding the remaining tablespoon of butter and serve with freshly grated parmesan on the side.

About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”