Monday, April 05, 2010
Comfort food can be convenient. When we think of convenience however, more often than not the approach is to minimize effort constantly. Let's face it, after a hard day at work and probably having screaming kids around the house, sometimes we crave for something along the lines of reheat and serve immediately. I for one am a fan of one pot cooking and storing ahead recipes.
After contemplating between bolognese and chili tuna, I went with the former because I have not made it before. It is simple and there is really no need to resort to suffering through store bought sauces when you can make the best out of fresh ingredients and local produce. On the days I feel like hanging around the kitchen I make enough sauce to provide quick meals for many upcoming lazy moments.
This one of those recipes I came up with on my own, which is rare. Understanding bolognese as just a hearty meaty tomato sauce, I figured the base should be quite simple - mirepoix. Although mirepoix is French and this Bologna sauce is Italian, the principle of aromatics apply across cultures. Mirepoix is essential in this case not just for flavor, but for body. Preparing mirepoix for a sauce requires more refined chopping than soup or stew as it won't be left to cook for very long. Perhaps the best thing about ragù alla bolognese is that it taste better the second time, like chili con carne or lamb stew. It goes with any pasta and can be reserved for a cheesy lasagna.
To produce a thick and flavor packed sauce, use canned tomatoes. Fresh ones will be too watery, although I added some tiny cherry tomatoes for texture (these are not juicy). I only use the tomatoes and bin the sauce, preferring bottled tomato sauce for thickness and flavor instead. You can use the can liquid if you don't have ketchup in your pantry but cook it down for a good thick sauce.
Chicken can be replaced with beef, lamb or pork. A tastier sauce will call for meat with a little fat. Beef chuck or lamb loin minced at home makes a better sauce than pre-packed ground meat from the supermarket. It really boils down to working with the best ingredients possible.
As with any stew or thick sauces, the recipe is not fixed. A little less of this and more of that will not make things worse. Later I browsed my favorite cooking blogs to compare recipes. This one is pretty close... and incidentally, French!
Serves up to 8
- 1 cup onion sliced thinly or chopped finely
- 1 cup onion sliced
- 1 cup carrot chopped finely
- 1 cup celery chopped finely
- 8 cloves garlic chopped
- 3 bird chilies thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 can whole tomatoes, drained
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes quartered
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh basil torn
- 1/2 cup parsley chopped
- 1/2 cup coriander chopped
- 1 1/2 cups field button mushrooms sliced thinly
- 6 deboned chicken thigh minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
- 2 stalks rosemary chopped finely
- 2 stalks thyme chopped finely
- virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- fresh grated parmesan
- more coriander for garnish
Brown the chicken lightly in a frying pan and set aside.
Meanwhile in a deep sauce pot, saute the mirepoix over medium heat until the onion is caramelized and the vegetable soft. Add the mushrooms, chilies and a little salt. Fry for a few minutes until mushrooms are brown.
Return the chicken to the pot, add basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano. Fry for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar and chili sauce.
Cook on medium low heat until sauce is reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add parsley and coriander. Serve with hot pasta, parmesan and more coriander.
Life Is Great explores the incredible world of food and cooking. We hope to share with you our most delicious moments and inspirations.
“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”
Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
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