Saturday, June 19, 2010
Dining with Dad
My Dad and I have always been best friends. As a little girl I followed my Dad around everywhere because I knew wherever he went, fun would follow. To me, my Dad was like magic and I never knew what fun game or activity he was going to dream up next. Dad and I would play games and laugh, from sunrise to sunset.
(Dad chasing me before I could even walk, so not fair!)
Dad and I were partners in crime. Laughter and games are always better when you "break the rules", right? There were definitely those times when the games were probably not appropriate, especially when it came to the dinner table. One of our favorite family meals was Spaghetti and Meatballs. You can imagine my Mom's delight at the game my Dad created, which was "How Much Spaghetti Can You Fit In Your Mouth At Once?" My Dad and I loved the game and would twirl huge chunks of spaghetti onto a fork and proceed to ram it into our mouths. Dad and I would laugh hysterically. My poor Mom. I don't think she cared for the game very much, but she never said anything. She just sat there silently while we acted ridiculous and laughed our heads off.
Our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Dining with Dad. Our Father's Day celebration this year will be just me and the kids. I have plans to see my Dad in a couple weeks, but he lives in Ohio and I live in Kentucky. My husband also can't make it as he is working out of state and unable to come home. No worries, we plan on celebrating again soon! I decided that for now I would make Bittman's Bolognese and serve it over top some spaghetti, in honor of my Dad. After dieting for two weeks straight, the spaghetti with Bolognese sauce was a big splurge for me and I had no trouble seeing how much spaghetti I could fit into my mouth (LOL)!
Meat Sauce, Bolognese-Style
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
*Makes 1 quart, enough for about 3 pounds of pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1/4 cup bacon or pancetta
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1/2 pound lean ground beef (I used 1lb. 95% Hereford Beef)
3/4 cup dry white wine (I prefer red wine in Bolognese)
1 (28-35 oz) can whole plum tomatoes, drained
1 cup beef or chicken stock,
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cream, half and half, or milk
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Put the olive oil in a large, deep skillet or saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-low and a minute later, add the onion, carrot, celery, and bacon or pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the ground meat and cook, stirring and breaking up any lumps, until all traces of red are gone, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, raise the heat a bit, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands and add them to the pot; stir then add the stock. Turn the heat to low and cook at a slow simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes and any clumps of meat that remain. After an hour or so, add salt and pepper. Cook for at least another hour, until much of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is very thick. (This sauce may be covered and refrigerated for a day or two, or put in a closed container and frozen for several weeks. Reheat before completing).
Add the cream, half and half, or milk and cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately with any dried or fresh pasta, passing grated Parmesan, if you like at the table.
Notes/Results: I love making bolognese sauce. There is just something about a pot of sauce bubbling away on the stove for hours that is comforting. Bittman's Bolognese sauce was really good. The only change I made was to add in garlic. For some reason his recipe didn't call for any. I also subbed red wine for white wine because I prefer red wine in Bolognese. The recipe really did make a quart of sauce, which is great because I can freeze the leftovers for a great, quick meal later on. It was a great meal and I know my Dad would have approved!
I couldn't resist leaving you with this funny picture of my Dad teaching me how to use the sit-and-spin. After all, it's not every day that you see a grown man riding on a sit-and-spin. Looks like he is really trying to show me how fun it can be AND he really looks like he is enjoying himself!
A Very Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there!!