Spaghetti Bolognese

February 8, 2009

piccini_chiantiLately I’ve been working with recipes from Cooking, by James Peterson.  On Friday I was leafing through the pages looking for some weekend cooking inspiration.  The Shellfish Risotto with Saffron sounded interesting.  I’ve never cooked with shellfish.  I was also thinking, maybe a fish dish of some kind…  And then a bottle of wine popped into my head.  A Chianti I had tried about a year ago.  When I first started getting interested in wine and food pairing, sangiovese was one of the the grapes I gravitated toward.  I like the earthy, smoky, old world taste of the varietal.  The Piccini Chianti I’m talking about, fits that bill nicely.  Even better, the wine is $10.99 a bottle!  Red meat and tomato goes great with this wine, and making my own pasta sounded like a challenge, so spaghetti bolognese it was.

The sauce went together rather quickly, but the cooking time was quite long.  I modified the ingredients a bit from the original recipe.  The biggest change was using 2.5 pounds of meat instead of the 5 pounds listed.  This is the first time I’ve made pasta from scratch.  I was a little worried about it, since I haven’t worked with dough much, but it was actually fun.  In terms of taste, Melissa seemed to enjoy the dish more than I did.  I thought the pasta needed a little salt and the sauce less salt.  I used canned tomatoes in the sauce because fresh tomatoes this time of year aren’t very good here.  Unfortunately the canned tomatoes contained salt.  Next time I’ll use fresh or make sure I get canned without salt.  I’ll also use even less meat, I would have liked more sauce in this dish.


The Sauce

  • 2.5 pounds beef stew meat
  • 4 tablespoons of an equal mixture of olive and canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • Four 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
  • One 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • Bouquet garni (about 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 4 sprigs fresh oregano, 1 dried bay leaf)
  • 2 cups chianti
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons of granulated sugar

In 3 tablespoons of oil brown the meat.  Pull meat out and set aside.  In the same pan add oil if needed and over low heat, toss in the onion and carrots.  Cook until the onion becomes translucent.  Add garlic, stir for thirty seconds, then add the wine, 1/4 cup wine vinegar, bouquet garni and the meat.  Simmer slowly uncovered for about three hours, stirring occasionally.  At this point the meat should be tender, with just a few small puddles of liquid simmering at the top.  Take off heat, pull the bouquet garni, stir to break up and shred the pieces of meat.  Add salt, black pepper and sugar to taste.  If sauce is too acidic add the rest of the vinegar.


The Pasta


  • 6 large eggs, (add more if needed)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Knead these ingredients together until you can form a ball.  Once you’ve pulled the dough together, it should be moist but not sticky to the touch.  Adjust by adding flour or egg as needed.  If you use a pasta machine start with the largest setting, running the dough through until it has the consistency of suede.  As you cut the dough, break apart the strands if needed and sprinkle liberally with flour to keep them from sticking.  To cook, bring a pot of water and two tablespoons of oil to boil, and add the pasta.  The pasta is done when al dente, check by tasting.  It should only take a minute or two for the pasta to cook.

Author: Kenton