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!

French onion soup

An hearty au gratin onion soup, suitable for a winter supper or perhaps after a late  night out and to process an hangover.

Prepare the onion soup beforehand, and just work it off with bread and cheese in the oven before eating

The only time consuming about this recipe is the slow cooking of the onions, so have a drink while cooking!

French onion soup

French onion soup
French onion soup

 

 

1 kg onions, 50 g butter, 1 tbsp flour, 1 liter beef stock , 4 slices of bread, 150 g grated Comté, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 leaves of laurel, salt and pepper

Cut the peeled onions into rings and fry until golden brown in butter over a low heat.

This can take a while, stir regularly to prevent burning.

Stir the flour into the onions and let it cook for a a few minutes .

Then add the stock and  the herbs to the soup and let it simmer for 25 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper.

Bake the slices of bread crispy in some butter, divide the soup into 4 bowls. Put the bread on top and divide the cheese on the bread and the soup.

Let the cheese crust nicely in a hot oven.

Serve immediately and burning hot.

Bon appétit!

If you do not have a beef broth, feel free to use a cube for once, or even better, plain water!

Salted cod with spring vegetables

Cod is like sauerkraut or pea soup, whichI prepare once a year. And today it’s the turn of the salted cod.  And as this February weekend is particularly like  spring, I propose a cod dish with spring vegetables.

I had already prepared the classic cod like the brandade, the Venetian cod, and the cod with the Portuguese.

It’s time to move on with this

Salted cod with spring vegetables

Salted cod with spring vegetables
Salted cod with spring vegetables

Ingredients: 2 desalted cod fillets, as in this Venetian recipe, 1kg of fresh broads beans, 1 small boot of cooked violet artichokes, some spring onions, olive oil, a lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of capers preserved capers, 1/2 liter tomato sauce with Bacon, salt and pepper.

For the preparation of the beans I refer you here, in fact the recipe is mainly a matter of assembling different products.

Don’t hesitate to use frozen broad beans and/or a jar artichokes.

Let’s start by removing the skin from our cod fillets using a sharp knife. It is simple enough by sliding the knife as close to the  the skin of the cod as possible,  deposited on a flat surface.

Kook the cod in simmering water for 5 minutes, turn off the fire and keep the fish warm in his cooking water for about ten minutes.

Clean the spring onions by removing the outer leave.

Make them cook over low heat in a nut of butter and a bottom of water.

Once the water evaporated, add the beans and artichokes and continue cooking for an extra minute..

Keep the vegetables warm.

Tomato sauce with Bacon

I had left some tomato sauce that I had prepared for pasta this weekend,  and rather than throwing it away  as much use it for something else.

Ingredients: 150 of bacon or guanciale, 1 tin of crushed tomatoes (it is stil winter!), 2 onions, 2 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of dried oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cut the guanciale into small pieces and sauté in a frying pan.

Cut the onions and sauté them in the grease of the bacon.

Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic and oregano.

Cook the sauce by adding a little water and/or olive oil for a little half an hour if necessary.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Lamb stew with artichokes

Grilled, roasted or stewed, lamb is  a very  tasteful  spring ingredient. Accompanied by young artichokes and a fresh lemon flavored sauce, we propose you the following dish of a lamb stew with artichokes and lemon.

Lamb stew with artichokes and lemon.

Lamb stew with artichokes
Lamb stew with artichokes

Ingredients: 1 kg lamb stew (leg of lamb or shoulder) cut into cubes, 5 young purple artichokes, the juice of 2 lemons, 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 30 g butter, 2 egg yolks.

Sear the meat on all sides golden brown in some butter, remove the meat and fat  from the pan and glaze the shredded onion in some fresh butter. Add the meat and the shredded garlic. Season the meat with salt and pepper and just add enough water until the meat is covered.  Cook the meat for 1.30h. on low heat until soft.

Meanwhile, clean the artichokes: break the stems, cut off the hard tops of the leaves and remove the outer hard leaves. Cut the artichokes into quarters, remove the hay, if you find some, and cook the artichokes in water mixed with lemon juice and salt for about 10 minutes.
Add the quarters of artichokes to the meat and continue the cooking for 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the stew pan and keep it warm. Beat the sauce up with the egg yolks and season the sauce with lemon juice salt and pepper at taste .
Serve the lamb stew with the artichokes, sauce and boiled potatoes.

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!

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!

Chickpea, cime di rapa and fried pasta soup

I could seem a grumpy thing in my last posts, criticizing quite firmly the ‘one pot pasta’ trend.

Everyone cooks the dishes he or she prefers with  products that he is quite entitled to choose himself. And the result concerns only him, and his possible guests.

But this freedom of choice and enforcement is not absolute for editors of published recipes either on paper or on the net. These recipe writers carry a certain responsibility in relation to their readers. Their publications can serve as examples and help propagate culinary ineptitudes.

And, that’s the case with the spread of  ‘one pot pasta’  recipes. For the most part, the recipes based on pasta are not too complicated and do not require too many pans  for their realization: a pan  for sauce and a large saucepan for cooking pasta.

In the last few decades, French cooking has gradually been freed from the constraints of a classic cuisine codified by Escoffier to evolve into a cuisine of celebrity cooks.

Italian cuisine, on the other hand, is a regional cuisine, with specific family recipes and is based on local, traditional and seasonal products.

Ragù alla bolognese, pasta carbonara or caponata are traditional and family recipes with well-defined ingredients and structured preparation, although each family has a few special secrets and ingredients.

‘Spaghetti bolo’, ‘carbo with cream’ and other ‘pineapple pizza’ are therefore culinary aberrations for most Italians.

To redeem myself of this rather austere introduction, I propose a simple recipe and full of sunshine of southern Italy.

Moreover, it is almost a one pot pasta, a recipe from ‘cucina povera’ originating from Apulia with chickpea, cime di rapa, a specie of small-flowered broccoli with edible leaves and stems, also known as  broccoletti, and fresh pasta fried in olive oil.

Chickpea, cime di rapa and fried pasta soup

Chickpea, cime di rapa and fried pasta soup
Chickpea, cime di rapa and fried pasta soup

Ingredients: 1 large onion, 200 g chickpeas, 500 g of cime di rapa (to be replaced possibly by broccoli), 500 g fresh tagliatelle, olive oil, a piece of cinnamon, salt.

No garlic, no bayleaves, no thyme and no pepper, but I’ll let you improvise!

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water.

Sauté the onion in olive oil. Add the drained chickpeas and a liter of water. Cook the chickpeas for 45 minutes and drain them.

Pour a liter of water on the chickpeas and the cime di rapa (broccoli), then continue cooking, the time needed to fry the tagliatelle.

Heat olive oil and brown the pasta in small quantities. Put the drained pasta in the soup and continue cooking for a few minutes.

Season the soup with salt and serve the boiling.

Personally, I would have added pepper, pepper, even thyme and even replaced the water with a broth and served the soup with pecorino, but there was none. This is also the cucina povera.

Thanks to Assunta, besides her parmigiana of eggplant was the best I have ever eaten.

Enjoy your meal!

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 cheeks with carrots

Perhaps not yet quite seasonal, this dish of beef cheeks with carrots and red wine is a dish that will please you several times.

Firstirst by the perfumes released during its slow cooking Then by the tasting of the  very tender and gelatinous meat .. Not to mention the pleasure of the dish warmed the next day. Er if you have any sauce left, it will be perfect to flavor a dish of tagliatelle.

We will therefore cook our dish of cheeks of beef in quantity. Moreover, nothing prevents its freezing.

Beef cheeks with carrots

Beef cheeks with carrots
Beef cheeks with carrots

Ingredients: 1.5 kg of beef cheeks, 1 kg of carrots, 1 celery stalk, 2 onions, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 liter of red wine, 1/2 liter of beef broth , 1 bouquet garni composed of laurel, thyme, and for the amateurs, a clove, 50 g of butter, 1 spoon of oil, flour, salt and pepper.

Cut the beef cheeks into pieces of about 100 grams. Season with salt and pepper and brown the cheeks  in a mix of butter and oil.

Peel the carrots and cut them into 2 cm pieces. Thinly slice the celery.

Reserve the meat and replace the fat with a piece of fresh butter.

Brown onions, garlic and celery over medium heat. Roll the beef cheek pieces into flour and put them back in the casserole.

Pour the red wine over the meat and bring it to a boil to remove the alcohol. Finally add the carrots and the bouquet garni and wet on height with beef broth.

Cook the beef cheeks under a lid in a 160 ° oven for 2 to 3 hours, checking the liquid level regularly, if necessary add broth.

Season to taste with salt and pepper

Serve the beef cheeks with  steamed potatoes .

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.

Duck confit with lentils

Duck confit with lentils is a classical French bistrot dish. Use preferably small green lentils (lentilles du Puy) as they retain their texture once cooked.

And since I do not like the confit duck legs of the trade (at least most of them!), I also give you a recipe to confite your duck legs at home

If you have purchased a whole duck, use the duck breast for another preparation, such as dried duck breast, and the carcass will be used to make a wonderful broth .

Duck confit with lentils

Duck confit with lentils
Duck confit with lentils

Ingredients: 4 confit duck legs, 200 g lentils, green lentils, 1 tablespoon of their fat, 1 onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 4 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, 1 liter of chicken broth, salt and pepper.

Wash the lentils and soak them  for 1 hour in cold water.

Slice the onion and sauté it in some duck fat with the whole and unpeeled garlic cloves. Add the lentils, bay leaf, thyme and 1/2 liter of chicken stock. Cook the lentils over low heat, under a lid for about 20 minutes. Check the lentils while  cooking and add, if necessary, more  broth to the lentils.

Bring the lentils to taste with salt and pepper.

Brown the duck legs in a dry skillet on both sides, drain the excess of fat, and serve with the lentils

Confit duck legs

Duck confit ingredients
Duck confit ingredients

Ingredients: duck legs, (at least 4 to make it worthwhile), coarse salt, 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, a pot of duck fat.

Rub the duck legs on all sides with salt.

Place them on a rack in a dish and cover them with food film.

Leave the duck legs overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, wash the thighs with running water and pat them. Place the duck legs in a saucepan, add garlic, thyme and duck fat.

Cook over low heat for about 2 hours, checking for tenderness  with a needle. Confit duck legs should be well cooked.

Put the duck legs in a  jar and cover them with hot fat. Close the jars and keep the duck confit in a dark, cool place until consumed.

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!

Turbot with samphire

Turbot is a quite expensive fish, especially the bigger wild ones, that we only cook on special occasions. I like to cook turbot with samphire and algae to enhance the taste and feeling of the sea in the dish.

Turbot with samphire

Turbot with samphire
Turbot with samphire

Ingredients: 300 g samphire, 1 turbot (about 2 kg, sliced), 60 g butter, 1 tsp. of oil, 1 dl white wine, 2 tsp. dried kelp, 2 dl liquid cream, salt and pepper

Blanch the cleaned samphire for 1 minute in a large saucepan of boiling water and drain it.

Pan fry the slices of fish in a mixture of butter and oil.

Meanwhile, bring the wine with the kelp to a boil.

Add the cream and reduce to the desired consistency. Pass the sauce trough a fine sieve  and whisk in a small amount of butter. Season with salt and pepper and heat the samphire in the sauce.

Put the fish on heated plates and serve with the samphire sauce.

This turbot dish is a real feast accompanied by steamed potatoes.

Samphire, like sea lavender, is a plant that grows on land regularly covered by sea water. Blanch the samphire quickly in boiling and unsalted water.

The dried kelp I used here is a mixture of different kinds of marine algae. It is easily found in natural health stores.

Enjoy your meal !

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!

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