Ragù alla Bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is a very popular dish. The sauce made from minced meat, vegetables and tomatoes is especially popular with children and is a non-negligible factor, cheap and easy to achieve.

Few people realize that this sauce is the bastard version of a classic cooking recipe from the Bologna region. Here is an authentic version of “ragù alla Bolognese”. But as always, there are certainly as many different versions as families in this region of northern Italy.

This sauce is best eaten, and the Italians are very precise on sauces-pasta, with tagliatelle is also used in the making of no no less classic lasagna alla bolognese.

You will notice that this sauce cooks for  a long time; that it does not contain any spices or herbs, other than a bayleave and pepper, and that in addition it is wet with whole milk.

Here is a very classic variant of

Ragù alla Bolognese

Ragù alla Bolognese
Ragù alla Bolognese

To my great surprise, I have not yet photographed this recipe, so I propose you a picture of a dish of conchiglioni with  ragù alla Bolognese and  béchamel sauce.

Ingredients: 300 g ground beef, 150 coarsely chopped pancetta (to be replaced by lightly salted but not smoked bacon ), 50 g  carrots finely chopped, 50 g celery , finely chopped, 50 g chopped onion, 500 g of tomatoes, seeded and cut in brunoise, 2.5 dl of whole milk, 2.5 dl of beef broth, 1.5 dl of white  or red wine , olive oil, 1 bayleave , salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fry the pancetta on a low heat in a casserole.

Add the vegetables (except the tomatoes) and cook while stirring until vegetables are tender.

Put the heat to the maximum and add the minced meat to the soffritto.

Continue cooking until the meat is well cooked. At that moment the meat will be dry

Then add the wine and bayleave and cook until the liquid is completely evaporated.

Add the tomatoes and continue cooking over low heat for at least 2 hours.

Regularly check the consistency of the sauce: if it becomes too dry, add some  broth or water.

Add one-third of the milk and one-third of the chicken broth and continue cooking the ragù for an additional hour by adding the rest of the milk and broth.

The result is a thick very meaty sauce.

I would suggest to prepare this ragù in large quantities as the work takes  almost the same time and that you can keep the sauce, in  portions in the freezer.

Buon appetito!

Canned cherry tomatoes

Canned cherry tomatoes
Canned cherry tomatoes

The season of cherry tomatoes is virtually over or is still to come. This canning is prepared in summer and preferably with tomatoes of open ground, ripened in the sun and when they are the least expensive.

If you still find them you can can them for next winter, otherwise you will have to wait until next summer. The recipe for cherry tomatoes is simpler than that of the salsa di pomodoro of a previous post, since it is enough to put whole cherry tomatoes in jars accompanied by a little salt and possibly a basil leaf for the amateurs. I use small jars of half a liter, which is enough for a dish intended for 4 people. These cherry tomatoes are used to brighten up pasta dishes such as linguine with shrimp and cherry tomatoes, fish recipes like for this sea ​​bream with vegetables from the garden

We have prepared about twenty jars, which for us is ample enough.

I still give you the recipe, which is very short.

Canned cherry tomatoes

Ingredients for one 1/2 liter jar: 500 g of cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 leaf of basil.

Jars of sterilized tomatoes
Jars of sterilized tomatoes

Wash the tomatoes and  remove those that are unsuitable for sterilization.

Put the tomatoes into jars by tamping firmly, it does not matter if some tomatoes crack. Add salt and basil, close the jars and let them boil (sterilize) for 1 hour in boiling water. Let the jars cool in the water, dry them and don’t forget to label them.

Keep the cherry tomato jars in a cool, and protected from light, place.

English is not my native language. Feel free to ask for information about this recipe. I will answer any question. I also would very happy with any corrections you may suggest.

Thanks in advance!

Beef stock

When searching the web for beef stock, you will mostly find beef stock recipes made with beef or veal bones. This kind of stock is named ‘fond de boeuf’ in the French cuisine, and is meant to thicken and  flavor sauces.

This recipe for stock  contains beef meat with a few marrow  bones and gives a meaty taste to soups and veloutés.

Usually, I cook beef stock in great quantities as it is easy to store the stock in a freezer.

Beef stock

Ingredients: 2 kg of cheap cuts of beef meat(brisket, tail…), 2 à 3 peaces of marrow bones, 1/2 a celery, 2 à 3 carrots or parsnips, 2  leaks, 2 à 3 onions,  3 garlic cloves, 1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leave, parsley).

Cut the onions in half en roast them black in a dry frying pan on the cut side, to give you stock a nice golden color.

Clean and peal the vegetables.

Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Add 5 liters of water en bring to the boil. Skim the stock a few times till it really starts to cook. For a real clear stock, add some cold water to the stock en bring it again to the boil and skim again.

Leave the beef stock simmering on low heat during 2 à 3 hours and strain it. Let the stock cool down and freeze it portions ready to use.

I don’t use any kind of seasoning to the stock. I only season with salt and pepper when ready to use.

English is not my native language. Feel free to ask for information about this recipe. I will answer any question. I also would very happy with any corrections you may suggest.

Thanks in advance!

Baked custard of salsify, red pepper coulis

Today, we cook a vegetarian recipe of baked custard of salsify,  red pepper coulis. The flan (baked custard) is accompanied by smoked trout, which is optional!

I like the salsify, this  vegetable which is quite dirty to  peel and is so often badly cooked.

Most of the time it is overcooked, too bland and often bathed in an insipid béchamel. By this recipe I try to demonstrate the contrary and contrary to my habit I photographed this dish in a festive atmosphere. This salsify based dish asks for it!

Let’s start with the peeling of salsify

Peel the salsify with a peeling knife, cut the stems into pieces of about 4 cm and immerse them immediately in cold water to which you will have added a  fillet of white vinegar to prevent the quick oxidation of this vegetable. Check the salsify pieces and remove any remaining black parts. Rinse the salsify in a second bowl of water clean with vinegar.

And as a picture is better than a lot of words: do not forget the newspaper !, it will save you a messy cleaning of your work plan.

Baked custard of salsify, red pepper coulis

First the salsify chips: Peel and rinse the salsify stems with vinegar water. Cut into the thinnest slices possible using a mandolin or a peeling knife. Dry the salsify slices between two sheets of kitchen paper for at least 20 minutes. Fry the chips golden brown in frying oil à 180°, season with salt and. That’s it!

Continue with the red pepper coulis: We need 2 sweet red peppers, salt, Espelette pepper, lemon juice and a few drops of olive oil.

Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and the white parts of the vegetables, then cut them into cubes. Cook them in  lightly salted water, mix and season with lemon juice, chili and salt. Pass the pepper mash through a fine colander to remove some remaining hard pieces. Simply emulsify the coulis with a little oil with  a mixer just before serving.

Now the flan:

1 kg of salsify, the juice and zest of half a lemon, 2 dl liquid cream, 2 egg yolks, flour, butter, salt and pepper.

Clean and wash the salsify, as already explained. Cook the salsify stalks for 10 minutes in water with the juice of half a lemon and a spoonful of flour. Drain half of the salsify, then continue cooking the rest of the vegetables for about twenty minutes: they will then be very tender.

Mix well the cooked salsify with cream, egg yolks and 30 g of flour. Cut the salsify ‘al dente’ into small cubes and spoon them in the cream of salsify. Season with salt of pepper and lemon zest.

Put the salsify mix in individual soufflé buttered molds.

Cook the flans 25 minutes in a bain-marie in a preheated 180 ° oven

Let the flans stand for 3 minutes, untold them and serve with the chips and the paprika coulis.

I accompanied the salsify cakes with smoked trout fillets, but it’s not really essential.

English is not my native language. Feel free to ask for information about this recipe. I will answer any question. I also would very happy with any corrections you may suggest.

Thanks in advance!

Cured and dried duck breasts

Here is a recipe of cured and dried duck breasts, easy  to realize , but it requires a little patience before you can appreciate the result! Cured and dried duck breasts  are eaten as an appetizer , cut into thin slices and they will do wonders in your salads and even your soups. And as I like to confit the legs , I prefer to start the recipe with two ducks, and use the carcass to cook a broth.

Cured and  dried duck breasts

To make this dish, you need at least the 2 duck breasts of a fat duck. You will use the thighs and duck carcass for other recipes

For two duck breasts: 30 g coarse salt, 10 juniper berries, 10 black peppercorns, 2 leaves of thyme, 2 bay leaves.

Crush juniper berries and pepper in a mortar. Add salt, thyme and toasted laurel into small pieces. Put this mixture on the flesh side of the magrets. Put the magrets on top of each other, skin side to the outside. Put them in a dish and put a weight on it, then keep them in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Separate the duck breasts, sponge them with paper towel and then wrap them separately in a clean cloth. Let them mature for at least one week in the refrigerator before to enjoy them.

The quantities of salt and spices suit me perfectly, but nothing prevents you from varying the elements of the curing. And of course it is always possible to smoke the magrets. The breast must than be smoked 24 hours after salting and then dried as in the described  recipe.

Enjoy !

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