Yesterday evening I curled up in a blanket and watched BBC’s Persuasion on my laptop and tried to forget that I have an exam on Monday. Because even though I’m living in Italy right now, I was recently reminded that it’s called study abroad for a reason.
Now I have to start memorizing names and dates and directors of Italian movies, but temporarily transplanting myself into a lil bit of Jane Austen love story was perfect. Bless her. (But also where is my Captain Wentworth? Serious q.)
I’ve been living in Bologna for almost three months now (?!!?!). That’s pretty crazy.
I love this city because obsessing over food isn’t weird here. I can step outside my front door and talk for 20 minutes with a street vendor about why buffalo mozzarella is so incredibly creamy. I can take a different route to class between the bright red and orange buildings and discover a new bakery hidden beneath the porticoes. People here will spill their passion for wine or fresh pasta or prosciutto so willingly if you give a little encouragement.
I just want to listen forever and not say a word, but I guess my Italian won’t improve that way.
I wanted to share something on the blog that was super authentic Italian to pay homage to this delicious city. Then the other day I came across a recipe book I had bought close to the beginning of the semester. It’s filled with adorable illustrations and typical recipes of Bologna, which in true Italian fashion are all minimalistic and rely on good ingredients.
Today’s recipe is translated straight out of that recipe book and is for one of the dishes most associated with Bologna. Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese! Americans probably know it as Bolognese sauce, but by whatever name you know it, it is the best meat sauce in all the land.
Ladle it over fresh pasta, and you are living the dream, friends.
Make a whole big batch and freeze some for later! The flavor will only get better when you reheat it. Buon appetito 🙂
Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese
2 onions, minced
2 carrots, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
300g. (0.6 lb) pancetta, finely cut **Not sure what pancetta is or can’t find it? See note at the end of the recipe!**
400g. (0.9 lb) ground beef
1 c. red wine
1 6oz. can tomato paste
2 cups broth
Salt and pepper to taste
450 g (1 lb) tagliatelle all’uovo (wide, flat egg pasta—get fresh if you can!)
Grated Parmigiano, to taste
1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to pan and sautee until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the pancetta and let cook for a few minutes. Add the ground beef and leave to cook for 10 minutes, making sure to mix everything from time to time.
2. Stir the half cup of wine into the saucepan and let evaporate. At this point add the tomato paste and the broth and mix with a wooden spoon (it is apparently important that the spoon be wood). Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your preference.
3. Cover the saucepan and leave to simmer over low heat for up to four hours (the longer the better). Mix every now and then so the sauce does not attach to the bottom of the pan.
4. About a half hour before you want to eat, bring the pot to a boil and then turn off the heat and leave the sauce to cool to close to room temperature. In the meantime, prepare the pasta as directed on the package.
*A note on pancetta: it is the same cut of the pig as bacon, so if you cannot find pancetta, 8-10 regular strips of bacon will work. ONE THING TO NOTE! Bacon is smoked and pancetta is not, so I suggest boiling the bacon for 2-3 minutes first to minimize the smoky flavor.
**If you don’t eat pork, just up the ground beef to 1.5 lb total