Chocolate Pistachio Sables

I could try to write a long post here:

  • about how my sister-in-law introduced me to the wonder of a versatile cookie that is a sable last Christmas, a tender French sugar cookie that can be endlessly varied and which never wears out its welcome-

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (6 of 6)

  • about how I finally managed to make beautifully circular roll cookies rather than flattened tires (wrap your cookie roll tightly in parchment, cut the inner tube of a paper towel roll, slide your misshapen cylinder inside and roll it to cookie perfection and chill on a flat surface in the freezer, turning a bit in the first half hour or so to make sure it sets)-

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (2 of 6)

  • about how these cookies are beautiful and festive all on their own–studded with glistening chocolate and green pistachios–without need of mixing up seven shades of frosting nor a steady decorative hand-

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (3 of 6)

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (4 of 6)

but we know I’m not so diligent about my posting these days.  I trust you prefer a slightly abbreviated post now to a mid-January missive, so it’s time to get to the point and get you the recipe (from this month’s Bon Appetit).    Absolutely a must make.

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (5 of 6)

Chocolate Pistachio Sables
Recipe Type: cookies
Author: Adapted from [url href=”http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chocolate-pistachio-sables”%5DBon Appetit[/url]
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups (lightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg white
  • 5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon salt).
Instructions
  1. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine, then mix in the egg white. Fold in chocolate pieces and pistachios. (While you want these to be roughly chopped, don’t worry if you have a few larger chunks. When you slice the cookies you’ll cut through any too-large pieces of chocolate or nut).
  3. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8”-long log about 1½” in diameter, pushing dough together if it feels crumbly. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (The colder your dough, the easier it will be to slice.) As I noted above, roll inside a paper towel tube to get a uniform shape, and chill immediately.
  4. Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°F. Working with 1 log of dough at a time and using a serrated knife and a sawing motion, cut logs into ¼”-thick rounds and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing ½” apart. Be extra careful to keep up the sawing motion near the base of the cookie log as it otherwise might tend to break off with an uneven rough finish.
  5. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until set around edges and centers look dry, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.
Notes
Per Bon Appetit, the dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze instead of chilling. Slice frozen logs into rounds just before baking.

 

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Blackberry Farm Griddle Cakes (Gluten-Free Pancakes)

I fortunately don’t have to worry about gluten-free cooking, but I do often find myself looking with interest at gluten-free recipes.  I have quite a collection of flours going and am always curious to find new ways to use them.  But for the dabbler stocking all the ingredients necessary for a gluten-free pantry can seem a bit much.  If you’re going to use it all the time, a home-made mix that requires you to stock up on ingredients ranging from arrowroot powder to sorghum makes perfect sense (and is hopefully more economical than some of the store-bought varieties though I understand that extra expense is par for the course when things must be free of gluten).  But for me, it seems like a lot to buy.

Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (1 of 5)

May 2013’s Bon Appetit cover showcases a beautiful stack of pancakes from the famous Blackberry Farm restaurant.  I was immediately curious, and only when I read through did I realize the recipe was for gluten-free pancakes.  Even better, it “only” required four other varieties–buckwheat (which I have on hand for pancakes anyway); cornmeal (polenta); brown rice flour (which I use for bread proofing) and oat flour (which I bought for the occasion, but which you can make easily from regular oatmeal in the food processor).

Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (3 of 5)

With that, this iteration of Sunday morning pancakes.  I had actually been wanting to try buckwheat pancakes for a while but was a bit nervous about what my picky eaters would say.  So this mix seemed like a good test run, as I knew the oat flour–the largest component–would mellow the buckwheat flavor. A quarter cup of maple syrup didn’t hurt either.  The lack of gluten ensured these pancakes were tender and light (an unprompted observation from my husband).  And happily they puffed up beautifully as they cooked quickly–a virtue when I’m griddling up as fast as I can for 3 hungry boys.

Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (2 of 5)

A few comments.  As I mentioned I used polenta which maybe was a bit too coarse a grind for the purpose–my husband liked the slight crunchy texture they provided, but next time I think a finer grind would work better.  While the recipe doens’t so require, I found that the batter got thicker after the first batch as it absorbed more liquid, so I’d suggest a five minute rest after the initial mixing.

Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (4 of 5)

And one more.  I made yet another change from the original recipe–I didn’t add the quarter cup of melted butter.  For no reason other than that I misread the recipe.  I liked my accidental low-fat version well enough, but as it was not a considered change to the recipe, I also thought it was only right to let you know!

Blackberry Farm Griddle Cakes
Make your own oat flour by whirring up rolled oats in your food processor. You can make this into a “mix”: Triple the dry ingredients and store them in a jar. Use 2 1/4 cups of “mix”; all the other measurements stay the same.
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Butter (for skillet)
Instructions
  1. Whisk egg, buttermilk, and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk oat flour, cornmeal, rice flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients, then allow the batter to sit for five minutes.
  3. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat; lightly brush with butter. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bottoms are browned and bubbles form on top of griddle cakes, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until griddle cakes are cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.

 Blackberry Farm Gluten-Free Pancakes (5 of 5)

The Cocktail Column: Tom & Jerry

I’ll admit to it:  what caused me to pause when I came across this recipe was the name Tom & Jerry.  I wondered what the connection was between a cocktail and a cat and mouse, but then I realized I had it in reverse:  This drink, an 19th century classic, has to be where the name comes from.  Since Karen and I were Tom and Jerry for Halloween one year (in our mom’s home-sewn costumes), I couldn’t pass it up.

Tom and Jerry cocktails for new year! (blog post to come)

Also, it has sugar, aged rum, and cognac. Yeah, that.

Tom and Jerry "batter" prep

This warm drink is a perfect way to adhere to the holiday eggnog tradition while trying something a bit new.  The aromas of cinnamon, mace, allspice and cloves are all the more fragrant thanks to the hot milk. A bit of a hot toddy, it’s a lighter drink than your standard ‘nog, with whipped egg whites foaming on the surface, but it’s only lighter in a sense:  the aged rum and cognac ensure that it’s a drink that is plenty powerful.

Tom and Jerry "batter" prep

You can make the “batter” (which is the egg base of this recipe) a day in advance and store in the fridge.  You’re prepared in advance:  seems like a good way to start the year: another bonus of this recipe.

For an even lighter festive drink,  try Marie’s spiced citrus champagne here.  And if you find you need something with a bit of caffeine to keep you up through midnight, try the Garum Factory’s latest affogato corretto (espresso and ice cream “corrected”–with alcohol of course)!

But whatever’s in your glass, Happy New Year!

Tom and Jerry cocktails

The Cocktail Column: Tom & Jerry

A classic 19th century cocktail, adapted from [url href=”http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/tom-and-jerry-cocktails-2012″%5DFood & Wine[/url]
Ingredients
  • Tom and Jerry Batter
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/8 cream of tartar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 ounce aged rum
  • 1c superfine sugar
  • 1/8t ground cinnamon
  • 1/8t ground mace
  • 1/8 ground allspice
  • pinch cloves
  • The Cocktail
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) Tom & Jerry Batter
  • 4 ounces Cognac
  • 4 ounces aged rum
  • 8 ounces hot whole milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
Instructions
Tom and Jerry Batter
  1. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
  2. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 ounce aged rum.
  3. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar, the cinnamon, mace, allspice and cloves.
  4. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
  5. The batter can be refrigerated overnight. Makes about 20 ounces (enough for 2 1/2 batches)
The Cocktail
  1. Pour the Tom & Jerry Batter into a large heatproof measuring cup.
  2. Gently fold in the Cognac and rum, then gently stir in the hot milk.
  3. Pour the drink into 4 small warmed mugs or heatproof glasses.
  4. Garnish with nutmeg.

 

Lebkuchen (Austrian Gingerbread Cookies)

Sad to say, this blog has a regrettable dearth of Christmas cookies.  (Or cookies in general).  I hope this post can help make amends.  With marmalade (if like me you have too much), brown sugar, molasses, a riot of spices, plenty of eggs, and of course candied ginger, these cookies are full of flavor and well worthy of the holiday season.

Christmas Lebkuchen (8 of 8)

I’ve loved this slightly chewy, soft gingerbread cookie (in contrast to the crisp, snappy variety) since enjoying is as often as I could in the Czech Republic.  Besides beautifully decorated showpieces, every grocery store stocked multiple varieties single serving cakes filled with your selection of jam and glazed in a thin veneer of chocolate.  Years later, I even imposed upon  my friend Jennifer to bring me back some from her annual trip to Austria, along with marzipan and plum paste.  (That’s sort of a lot, isn’t it?)

Christmas Lebkuchen (1 of 8)

These cookies are so easy to make–it’s whirred up in the food processor and frozen for at least four hours to stiffen it up a little.    I left mine in the freezer a full twenty four hours, and you can see how soft and viscous it is even after that–so don’t skip that step or you may turn an easy cookie making venture into a frustrating one.

Christmas Lebkuchen (3 of 8)

Scooping out with a cookie scoop is definitely helpful (see that part about being sticky and viscous above), but the good news is even as imperfect as my scoops started looking, they all baked up into lovely rounds.  Even my younger son enjoyed helping–that’s his cute little hand.

Christmas Lebkuchen (2 of 8)

Christmas Lebkuchen (4 of 8)

The frosting is as simple as can be–sugar held together by milk and a bit of butter.  It’s nothing but pure saccharine, which actually is the perfect icing for such complex and rich cookies.  Everyone I shared these cookies with gave them rave reviews, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we all did!

Christmas Lebkuchen (6 of 8)

Lebkuchen (Central European Gingerbread Cookies)

Ingredients
  • Cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched whole almonds
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger (1 ounce)
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 5 large eggs
  • Icing
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or toast, stirring frequently in a hot dry skillet for about 5 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden. Remove to a plate to stop the cooking, and let cool completely.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, allspice, salt and nutmeg.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the cooled almonds until coarsely chopped. Add the brown sugar and pulse until incorporated. Add the marmalade, candied ginger and molasses and pulse until the mixture is well blended and the nuts are finely chopped. Add the eggs all at once and pulse until just incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and pulse until incorporated and the batter is uniform in color.
  4. Scrape the soft batter into a bowl, cover and freeze until very firm, at least 4 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Using a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop, scoop 8 level mounds onto each baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. Freeze the remaining batter between batches.
  7. Bake the cookies in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 20 minutes, until risen and slightly firm; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Transfer the sheets to racks and let the cookies and pans cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  8. In a bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the milk and butter. The butter will eventually incorporate. Spread the cookies with icing (it’s easiest to pick each cookie up and frost it rather than frost them on a plate) and let dry completely before serving or wrapping.
Notes

The cookies can be stored between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Christmas Lebkuchen (7 of 8)

Vacation Blueberry Pie

Cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen is always a bit of an adventure.  You never know what you’re going to find, what “obvious essentials” will be glaringly absent, what will need to be improvised, and whether you’ll rise to the occasion.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (10 of 12)

Last week, our family all rented a house together in Cape Cod.  And I should say extended family–not just us three sisters and our parents but various generations of in-laws and of course my two sons to lap up all the attention.  While we made sure to eat plenty of fried seafood, ice cream, and pizza, we also made use of the kitchen, which came fully stocked with all sorts of pantry items of varying age (how old exactly were the three 16 ounce jars of ground nutmeg?) and provenance.  And because the rule of the house was that anything you use up has to be replaced by the end of your stay, lots of boxes were nearly–but not quite–emptied.  It’s always the technicalities isn’t it?

Vacation Blueberry Pie (3 of 12)

Since we had a full house, though, we were going to the grocery store seemingly every day.  And with so many people to feed, in summer, I decided I had to make a pie.  But here’s that part about the trickiness of baking in someone else’s kitchen.  There was no pie plate to be found.  Nor a rolling pin.  And I hardly have to tell you that lacking those two items, there was no pastry cutter.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (4 of 12)

Vacation Blueberry Pie (6 of 12)

But this is a happy tale of staring down hardships and succeeding, not a mournful tale of a dessert that never came to be.  After all, adversity is the mother of invention.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (8 of 12)

Vacation Blueberry Pie (7 of 12)

As for the first obstacle–the missing vessel–a 9 X 13 casserole dish proved to be more than a perfect substitute.  More than perfect since its roomier size meant more pie for all–hardly a tragedy.  I used 1 1/2 times my normal pie dough recipe which yielded a generous amount of crust.  And that dough was made by the most low-tech method of all, simply rubbing the butter into the flour:  a technique I have a newfound confidence in, thanks to this video.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (5 of 12)

Finally, the best kitchen hack, and one which proves that good wine always saves the day.  A wine bottle (we had a few in the fridge) made a fine stand-in for a rolling pin, with its naturally cool surface, heft, and smooth cylindrical shape.  It was easy to maneuver, despite its missing “handle” on one end, and while I feared sloshing alcohol would be distracting to my work, a full bottle turned out to glide right along the surface.  The label left a slight indentation in the rolled-out dough, but for me the additional evidence of my weapon of choice was charming rather than frustrating.  I wouldn’t, however, recommend using a fine vintage for this, if you’re one of those people who saves the labels in a wine diary–things got a bit messy.  All in all, I was pretty excited about this whole process.  I’ll be using a rolling pin when available but freely admit that I’ll be patting myself on the back about this one for a while.  Who cares if I can’t claim to have invented the idea?  Note that I’ve added extra tips on the rolling out process–applicable to whatever tool you’re using–in the recipe itself.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (2 of 12)

I subbed in limes for lemons, as I like to do–its zing pairs nicely with blueberries, and we had plenty on hand for gin and tonics anyway.  Brown sugar had been purchased for cookies and was used instead of the pantry’s remaining scrapings of white sugar.  After all, we wouldn’t want to have to replace it now, would we?

Vacation Blueberry Pie (1 of 2)

Bright afternoon sun, sea air only steps away and fresh blueberry pie passed around a large table.  And a bit of adventure (broadly defined). Can’t get more summer than that.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (2 of 2)

Vacation Blueberry Pie

Note:  These measurements are for a 9 X 13 casserole dish. If  you’re in a more fully stocked kitchen and want to use a regular pie plate, use 6 cups of blueberries, and reduce the sugar (so long as you want to keep it on the less sweet side, as I do).

Pie Crust 
  • 3 3/4c flour
  • 4 1/2 t sugar
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces, or 1 1/2 cups) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 3/4 to 1c ice cold water (put a cup of the coldest water you have in the fridge with ice in it for at least 15 minutes).

Pie Filling

  • 8c blueberries (4 pint packages)
  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 1/4c corn starch
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)

Note that there is chilling time in this recipe, so make sure to factor this into your plans.  This need not be a nuisance–you can make the crust a day (or a few) ahead so that you need only roll it out, fill it, and bake it the day you want to serve it.

Make the pie crust.  Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together.  Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until it is pebbly with pea size chunks, and clumps together when you grasp it.  (See my post here for full instructions, or alternately rub the butter into the flour as I described earlier in this post).  Dribble in the cold water and stir with a spatula until it forms a rough ball.  Only add as much water as is necessary to form the ball–it may be less than the recipe calls for and will depend on the humidity in your kitchen.

Dump onto a clean surface and flatten the dough into a rough square.  Cut it in half, with one half slightly larger than the other.  (This happens to me without even trying, of course!)  Wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour.

Take the larger piece of dough out of the refrigerator and unwrap.  Place on a well-floured surface, then flip it over.  This is easier than flouring your rolling pin, though technically it’s better to flour the pin.  I like to make fingerprint indentations around the perimiter of the dough to help soften the edges–this seems to help prevent cracking.  Note that although the name of the game in pastry is cold, cold, cold, I do find that if the dough is TOO cold it’s almost impossible to roll–though no one ever seems to admit this.  You can whack it a bit with your rolling pin to soften it or just give it a few minutes to soften slightly on its own before proceeding.

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle.  Trim it so that it measures 13 inches by 17 inches.  Fold in half, and then in half again, and transfer to the casserole dish.   Chill for a half hour.

In the meantime, make the filling–stir together the berries, sugar, cornstarch, zest, and juice and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 425F.

Remove the second piece of dough from the refrigerator, and roll into a rectangle trimmed to measure about 11 inches by 15 inches.  Remove the casserole dish from the refrigerator, fill with the berries, and transfer the second piece of dough on top.  Pat it down gently over the filling, and crimp the edges together with the lower layer of crust.  (Crimp with your fingers by holding your thumb and pointer finger together on one side of the joined pieces of dough, while using your other pointer finger to push the dough into those two fingers–I think of it like making little triangles).  Trim any excess dough, cut slits in the top to let steam escape, and slide onto a cookie sheet to catch any spills in the oven.

Place the dish on the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about an hour or until the juices are bubbling and thick and the crust is nicely browned.  After 45 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (9 of 12)

Salvation Bolognese

A little while ago, we had our first dinner party in years–I’m not exactly sure how long ago the last one was, but I can absolutely fix the date as sometime squarely before the “pre-children” dividing line of my life.  I’ve told you about the pre-dinner drinks but not about the rest of the evening.   We had a great time — one of the spring menus from David Tanis’s A Platter of Figs, exactly as he devised it:  blanched asparagus in vinaigrette, roast lamb over flageolet beans, and babas au rhum for dessert.  And plenty of wine.

But there were some hiccups–to understate things a bit, and wouldn’t you know it, all to do with the main course.  I bought the lamb a week early, knowing that it was likely to sell out with Easter approaching.  The butcher cut me three 1 1/2 pound portions of lamb roast, and advised me that I should begin the thawing process no later than Friday evening, but to be safe Friday morning would be better.  Of course I went with the more cautious approach.

You can guess what happened.  The lamb was still an arctic brick late Saturday afternoon.  I tried to defrost in water–figuring (hoping!) that would work relatively quickly as the meat had already been thawing for 36 hours.  I then used the “turbo defrost” feature on the microwave.  Nothing.  In a fit of frustration, and already an hour into the evening, I chucked the meat in the oven, jabbed in the meat probe I bought for the occasion, slammed the oven door closed and prayed.  I was crushed to see that it was too cold for the probe to even pick up a reading.

My husband and I had a time-out in the kitchen.  He asked if we should just order pizza: “we have to feed these people!”  As the horror of calling Domino’s or the like settled on me, I remembered the bolognese sauce that I make in bulk and store in the freezer.  I pulled out a few two-portion containers, ran them under cold water to loosen the ice, dumped them in a saucepan, and we were off.

Salvation Bolognese Sauce (10 of 10)

Meanwhile, at some point in the process I shrieked in excitement from the kitchen–a number had appeared instead of the digitized “LoTemp” on my probe.  My joy was tempered slightly at the fact that the number was 32F but it was a milestone, and it continued to uptick nicely after that.

Suffice it to say, due to the difficulties of choreographing pots large enough to boil pasta and blanch asparagus, the bolognese with linguine ended up being ready at exactly the same time as the lamb came out of the oven.  So no one went away hungry, and my husband and I were eating lamb for a few days after that.

I stumbled into an important lesson–always have a plan B.  (I didn’t, but just got lucky).  And my bolognese sauce, that I’ve been making for ages now, was rechristened:  salvation bolognese.

Salvation Bolognese Sauce (9 of 10)

Salvation, for obvious reasons, but really it should have gotten that name long ago.  Those days when you are too beat to cook anything are often those days when you are in most dire need of something home-cooked and soul-nourishing.  Salvation.  Those weekends when an afternoon activity with kids runs far longer than you’ve planned.  Salvation.  And oh, when you throw a dinner party for your husband’s colleagues to whom he’s been talking up your kitchen prowess for weeks, and you don’t want to cater from Papa Gino’s.  Salvation!

I make a double recipe whenever I’m running low, and I’ve just started making it in my slow cooker, though I’ve been doing it for years just on the stovetop.  The reason the slow cooker is now my preferred method is that, much like making a soup stock, the slower and longer, the better, and I’m no longer tied to the stove for hours–not that the kitchen isn’t an inviting place to be during the process.

Salvation Bolognese Sauce (1 of 10)

Salvation Bolognese Sauce (3 of 10)

Salvation Bolognese Sauce (5 of 10)

Salvation Bolognese Sauce (8 of 10)

There are a million twists on basic bolognese, but there are some constants–a mix of ground meats is best (and easy to accomplish if you double or triple the recipe, as I always do) but you can use just one type if you like.  Milk or cream is either added early in the process or later on.  A base of onions, carrot, and celery chopped fine; a variety of spices, ranging from herby marjoram to aromatic nutmeg add complexity.  Mine is based on a Mark Bittman version, but I think as long as you follow the cardinal rule–cooking gently and slowly for as long as you possibly can–it will be delicious.  I love seeing how the meat slowly breaks down even as the sauce comes together into this flavorful, delicious sauce.  Check out how the sauce changes in texture from start to finish, and then I’ll give you the recipe.

Salvation Bolognese Sauce (6 of 10)

Salvation Bolognese Sauce (7 of 10)

Salvation Bolognese

  • 1/4c olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 6 ounces pancetta
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1lb ground pork
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cream or milk

Chop the onion, celery, and carrot very fine–I do this in the food processor since I’m making such a large batch.  (If doing this, pulse and check frequently so you don’t accidentally make a puree).  Heat the oil in a 5 quart skillet over medium and add the chopped vegetables.  (If you are planning to use a slow cooker, you can just use a deep skillet as I do in the photographs).  Sautee, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the pancetta finely (again, I use the food processor for this), and when the vegetables are ready, stir in the chopped pancetta along with ground beef.  Continue to sautee until the meat has lost its red color and is cooked, around 5-10 minutes.

Add the wine, turn the heat to high, and cook until the the alcohol has evaporated (about 5 minutes).
If you are using a slow cooker, now is the time to transfer it over to your slow cooker.  If not, continue to use the same pot.
Add the nutmeg, stock and the canned tomatoes.  (Since you are using canned whole tomatoes, either chop them up or break them up in your hands as you add them; drain off the extra liquid in the can).
Turn the heat so the mixture simmers slowly, stirring occasionally.  If using a slow cooker, cook on HIGH for 6 hours or on LOW for 8.  If cooking on the stove top, cook for two hours but go longer if you can.
Before portioning for the freezer, I chill in the fridge (as I try to avoid putting heated food into plastic containers).  I generally portion into 1 1/2 cup portions which is very generous for about a pound of pasta.  You will note the layer of congealed fat on top.  That’s OK.
When reheating to serve, allow about 20 minutes.  Add a drizzle of cream or milk to the sauce and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes (you can skip this, but by the time you heat the water for pasta and cook it, you’ll be there anyway).   Toss the ragu with the pasta and serve with plenty of grated parmesan cheese, and garnish with chopped parsley.
As for the picture below–when else do you get an excuse to pour out two cups of wine in the morning?   This is wine from a Cape Cod vineyard (really!) that I got at our new winter farmer’s market.  And don’t worry–the owner of that little hand did not get any.  I, however, had some with my pasta later that night.
Salvation Bolognese Sauce (4 of 10)
For other takes on bolognese sauce in the slow cooker, check out the links here and here.