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    Ragu alla Bolognese

    One of my all time favorite sauces for pasta is a rich bolognese. Originated in Bologna, Italy the traditional version incorporates beef with pancetta and according to Accademia Italiana della Cucina there is an official recipe that should be followed. My version however kicks it up a bit by mingling beef, veal and pork which to me creates a distinct taste and texture.

    One of basic items used is a basic battuto or you may have heard it called sofrito which is a simple combination of onion, carrot and celery, not unlike the French Mirepoix it’s used to give a sweet underlying flavor.

    As with some of my other recipes this one is great to make a large batch as it freezes well and can be used in a lasagna or as a gravy for pasta such as tagliatelle or rigatoni.

    You will need:

    Beef Chuck — One pound, ground to medium in a food processor, you can purchase pre-ground but I find the texture too smooth.
    Pork Shoulder — One pound, ground to medium in a food processor, again you can purchase pre-ground.
    Veal Shoulder — One pound, ground to medium or pre-ground. Alternatively you can use ground turkey
    Onion — One large sweet or about one cup, such as Walla Walla or Vidalia
    Carrot — Two large or about one cup
    Celery — three stalks or about one cup
    Garlic — Two cloves
    Tomato Paste — four TBSP
    White Wine — use a good dry such as Chardonnay, two cups
    Whole Milk &#151 Two cups
    Dried Oregano &#151 One TBSP
    Olive Oil &#151 Two TBSP
    Sea Salt/Pepper — Two tsp each

    Rough chop the onion, carrot and celery, place in a food processor and grind to a fine dice, set aside. In a large bowl place the beef, pork and veal/turkey and mix until well combined. Dice the pancetta to about ⅛” dice, set aside.

    Heat a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the protein to medium high add the olive oil. Sauté the meat(s) until most of the pink is gone. Remove the meat from the pan and strain out all of the juice left, set aside. In the same pan add the pancetta and sauté until crisp then add the battuto and sauté until translucent.

    If there isn’t enough fat left from the pancetta add a little olive oil. Make an opening in the center of the pan and add the crushed garlic, sauté until the garlic is just softened. Stir well to combine, make an opening in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste, sauté until it loosens up a bit and then stir all to combine. Return the meat to the pan, add the oregano and mix well, sauté until warmed through. Spread the meat out into a level layer and add the white wine. Cook through until the wine is dissipated add the milk and cook until most of the milk is gone. If there isn’t enough liquid in the sauce you can adjust with some pasta water.

    Serve immediately reserving some to cool and freeze for another day. Enjoy!

    Pasta con Cinque formaggi e el Pancetta

    Pasta with Five Cheeses and Pancetta

    This is not your kids mac and cheese but they will love it too. You can adjust quantities according to your personal taste.

    You will need:
    Parmesan Cheese – shredded – 1/2 cup
    Mozzarella Cheese – 1/2 cup (use fresh not smoked)
    Asiago Cheese – shredded – 1/2 cup
    Fontina Cheese – shredded – 1/2 cup
    Gorgonzola Cheese – 1/4 cup
    Whole Milk – 4 qts – heated
    All purpose Flour – 8 TBS
    Butter – 8 TBS
    Fresh nutmeg
    Pancetta – 1/4 inch thick slice – 1 or 2 depending on taste
    Good quality Italian/french bread (use food processor to crumb) – approximately 1/2 cup
    Salt/pepper – to taste (if you want a cleaner sauce use white pepper)
    Olive Oil
    Tubular or shaped pasta such as penne rigate, radiatore, farfalle, cavatappi or conchiglie – 1 pound

    Prepare pasta by bringing large pot of salted water to a rapid boil, add pasta and cook until just below al dente. In a dutch oven or pot large enough to hold cooked pasta plus one quart liquid heat one tablespoon olive oil. Cut pancetta into 1/4 inch dice, when oil is heated add pancetta. Cook pancetta until crisp, remove from pot with slotted spoon and reserve. Pour off any fat left from pancetta add butter and flour and cook until combined scraping up brown bits from pan. Slowly pour heated milk into pot stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Bring milk to a fast simmer then add Parmesan, Asiago and Fontina cheeses stirring well to allow cheeses to melt. Add salt and pepper to taste and 4 or 5 scrapes of the nutmeg, stir well. Remove from heat, fold in cooked pasta until well coated, crumble gorgonzola cheese into mixture, combine well, cut mozzerella cheese into 1/2 inch chunks then fold into mixture

    Butter a 9 x 13 oven proof dish, pour cheese and pasta mixture into pan and level top, combine bread crumbs with parmesan cheese and cover top. Bake in a 350° F oven until top is golden brown. This works well as a side dish or main course.

    Scallop Appetizer

    Pan seared diver scallop with pancetta crisp and sweet corn coulis.

    You will need:
    Fresh sweet corn or if not available frozen sweet corn.
    Heavy cream.
    Walla Walla or other sweet onion finely diced.
    Oil oil.
    Unsalted butter.
    Kosher salt/fresh ground pepper.
    One diver scallop per person.
    Thinly sliced pancetta (one per scallop) NB: Pancetta is sold in roll form do not unroll simply have your purveyor slice thinly.

    Put a little olive oil and butter in a sauté pan, heat until butter melts. Sauté onion until translucent add sweet corn and cook until corn just starts to caramelize. Add small amounts of heavy cream until corn starts to thicken. Process mixture in a food processor until smooth and creamy, set aside and keep warm.
    Cook pancetta slices until crisp. Be careful it tends to burn easily. Set aside.
    Put a little olive oil and butter in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the scallops. Heat until butter melts. Dry off the scallops, season with salt and pepper, put scallops in hot pan. Sauté scallops until done. This step depends on the size of your scallops. You should get a good sear on one side (make sure you get some color here) flip scallop to finish. Press down in the center of the scallop when you get a little resistance the scallop is done.
    To plate pour some of the sweet corn coulis on an appetizer plate, if you have scallop shells use those. Place one scallop in the middle of the coulis and top with a pancetta disk. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

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