The Wednesday Chef’s Bolognese

Pasta Bolognese. Long-simmered perfection in a plate of pasta.

Pasta Bolognese. Long-simmered perfection in a plate of pasta.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, friends!  I hope that your weekend has been filled with feasting, family, and most importantly – time at home to relax. We had a lovely Thanksgiving with family on Thursday, and have been hiding out at home since – having a couple of days with no to-do list, and no agenda was just the balm we needed. The house may not be any cleaner for our sloth, but sometimes, a little laziness is just the prescription needed to rest and recharge for the final rush to close out 2012 and head into the rest of the holiday season.

I recently devoured yet another culinary memoir, My Berlin Kitchen, from Luisa Weiss of The Wednesday Chef blog. I’ve been reading Luisa’s posts for years, and loving her reflections on a life lived with parts of her heart’s home residing in Boston, New York, Berlin and Italy, and always longed to learn more of her story. My Berlin Kitchen is the perfect answer to that longing, as she shares the bones of her personal story and the tastes, scents and flavors that make up her life. To say that you should buy the book is an understatement. You should buy one copy for yourself, and another for anyone else in your life who loves food. It’s that good.

bolognese sauce - sauteeing the meat

Sauteeing the meat for the start of the Bolognese.

Luisa’s story is punctuated by a recipe at the end of each chapter, a summary snapshot of a moment, a taste, a person, a conversation in her life. Much like Molly Wizenberg’s, A Homemade Life, this makes perfect sense to me – the intermingling of story and taste…that’s what food blogging is, right? As I was reading through, I found myself bookmarking recipes to be made later, and once done, I knew that Luisa’s Bolognese sauce would be first up. She describes the long simmered sauce as her ultimate comfort in challenging times, the meat laden sauce slowly contracting into a quivering, magical softness…I could not resist. And neither should you.

Truly, the hardest thing about Luisa’s Bolognese is mincing the carrots – not a task I particularly enjoy. But once you’re past that and the sauteeing of onion and carrot, the next 7 hours of gentle simmering pass by in a state of benign neglect. Give it a stir when you’re passing by the stove, to incorporate floating fat back into the sauce, but really, the sauce doesn’t need you. We walked to Taste Wine and Food and ended up chatting in the shop for over an hour, and then followed that with a 6 mile run…all while the sauce simmered away without us. The sauce didn’t miss us one bit.

And when we returned from our cold run, famished and ready to demolish anything in our path, we had to hold for one final hour, to allow the sauce to cook for the full prescribed 7 hour simmer…it’s hard to do when your house smells of red wine, tomatoes and meat sauce, but you should wait. Oh, yes. Your patience will be rewarded with a sauce that slumps and slinks into the crannies of your favorite pasta, and the gentle essence of meat and tomato blend with red wine in a perfectly balanced, nearly silky balanced bite. For a sauce with a skinny list of ingredients, and not a single spice beyond salt, this sauce is magical. Hands-down, the best I have ever made. You should make it, too.

The finished Bolognese. Meaty, silky perfection

The finished Bolognese. Meaty, silky perfection

Luisa has shared a different version of Bolognese on her blog, but you should really grab a copy of the book, and make the version stashed in its pages – it’s even simpler than the version on her blog. You won’t be sorry.

The Wednesday Chef – Marco Canoras Bolognese (not the version from her book)
What’s your favorite pasta dish that rings of comfort and home? Share your thoughts in the comments!

*Apologies for the not quite as good photos. I didn’t feel like getting out the DSLR and lights, so I made do with the iPhone. 

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