Mariel here. Like most people, when I receive promotional offers in the mail, I rip ’em right up. They’re insulting – how dare you waste my time with your meaningless spam! But I guess I was feeling generous one day and decided to read through marketing material from American Express. They were shelling out a cookbook from Food & Wine highlighting the best 2011 recipes for a paltry $3. I’m sad to report that I took the bait. Seven weeks later, a shiny hardcopy edition arrived on my doorstep and I have to say, it was full of some pretty interesting stuff. One lazy Sunday, I decided to test out a recipe from Mario Batali for something called Butcher’s Ragu. I admit I made a few measly tweaks – I swapped out water in favor of strained tomatoes, excised the smoked ham since I was plum out, and I used a blend of meats instead of ground beef – but since I’m not Italian nor am I a Batali-born offspring, I kept the changes to a minimum. I’d hate to upset the master. The results were exactly as rich and hearty as I’d hoped – and the dish was even easier than I suspected to prepare. Plus it saves beautifully for about 5 days in the fridge so I got a week’s worth of meals out of it. I served mine over whole wheat pasta, but it’s thick enough that it could stand on its own or it’d work as a topping on grilled Tuscan bread. It’d also be great layered in lasagna. But a word to the wise: although the cookbook was worth the $3, never will I ever respond “yes” to another AMEX offer. They now know they have a live one, so they inundate me every single day with a new offer. And yes, I called and went online asking them to stop. At least the bolognese was worth it. Looking for other heart-warming winter sauces? Check out this Beer-Braised Brisket Ragu, Penne alla Vodka, Creamy Portabella Mushroom Sauce, Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Sauce, and Mrs. A’s Tomato Ragu with Garden Veggies.
Butcher’s Bolognese Makes 1½ quarts Serves 6 Adapted from a Mario Batali recipe in Food & Wine’s 2011 Annual Cookbook
Ingredients: 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – stock 1 large carrot, diced – $0.89 1 celery rib, diced – $0.69 1 large onion, finely diced – $1.19 2 garlic cloves, minced – stock ½-lb thickly sliced prosciutto or pancetta, diced – $6.00 1-lb meatloaf mix – ground pork, veal and beef (you can also just all ground beef) – $4.99 ¼-cup tomato paste – stock 1 cup milk – stock 1 cup dry white wine – stock 1 cup strained tomatoes (I use Pomi) – $2.79 Salt and pepper to taste – stock Freshly grated parmesan (optional) Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $16.55 Cost per serving: $2.75 Directions: 1. In a large heavy casserole or stockpot (like a Le Creuset), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently. 2. Add the pancetta/prosciutto and the meatloaf mix and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. About 8 minutes. 3. Reduce heat to low and add the tomato paste. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so everything is evenly coated and rust-colored. 4. Add the milk, strained tomatoes and wine and simmer over low heat. If you’re using low-fat or skim milk, do not allow the mixture to boil or the milk will break apart and curdle. Stir occasionally and simmer for about 1 hour 15 minutes, until thick and saucy. Taste periodically and season with salt and pepper. 5. Serve warm over pasta and garnished with fresh parmesan, if desired.