What does comfort food mean to you? We all have a dish that’s like a warm soft blanket around our soul, bringing us home to our sanctuary. The meal you make when you wish to pamper yourself. It’s like taking a long soak in a hot bath. You exhale, relax and for that period of time, all is well with the world. You feel whole, you feel safe and you feel loved. What is your comfort food?
Mine is pasta every time, no question. More specifically, a good Bolognese (bowl-la-neze).
According to Larousse Gastronomique (culinary encyclopedia) “a la Bolognese is a French term for several dishes inspired by Italian cookery, especially that of Bologna”. You could have fooled me; I thought it was an Italian term for Best Thing Ever! Now, Bolognese IS a red pasta sauce, however it’s not usually referred to as red sauce, because it has meat in it and a simple red sauce usually does not contain meat. Bolognese is also often called a ragu or ragu alla Bolognese.
Now, what I’m about to say next could offend some folks. In today’s day and age, everyone has their opinion on what they consider proper and acceptable cooking/eating. Choosing ingredients that are cruelty free, nothing on the over-fished list, organic, etc., etc., etc. That is not my shtick here! That’s for another blog post entirely and certainly has importance and merit!
With that being said, the meat I prefer to put in my Bolognese (and is a popular choice among Bolognese recipes) is veal. Don’t hate me. Top, lean ground sirloin is also an excellent choice. Why, veal you ask? Because it brings a richer, more full-bodied flavor to the sauce. Much like a good red wine (which is also in Bolognese) veal adds depth of flavor, maturity and complexity to the sauce, in my opinion.
Ina’s Weeknight Bolognese from How Easy Is That has become my go to recipe. Usually, a wonderful pasta sauce is “born” through hours of simmering on the stove. I don’t know about you, but I simply haven’t the time to endlessly stir a pot of sauce. As I mentioned above, a good dry red wine is used. Adding the wine to the sauce is when things get exciting. The smell is phenomenal, you know something special is happening and it only gets better. The red wine also helps to “deglaze” the pan after cooking the meat. After adding the wine, you scrape up all the wonderful left over brown bits from the meat in the pan.
Almost any pasta will do, your favorite perhaps. Ina’s recipe calls for Orecchiette, used in the southern region of Italy. In Italian orecchio means ear, and the suffix ‘etto’ means ‘small’ – small ear. Orecchiette is available at Top Foods.
As I mention on my cooking tips page, honor yourself and the food you took the time and energy to make and use GOOD parm! More specifically, a lovely wedge of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano and grate it fresh for the meal.
As you can tell, I LOVE this recipe and it truly is comfort food for me. Take a moment and think about your most favorite comfort food. Go to the store, get the fixings and make your comfort food meal. You’ll feel loved, the people you cook for will feel loved and everyone will TASTE the love.
PS – add to your cooking & dining experience, light a few candles, pour your favorite beverage, perhaps a nice Merlot and play your kind of chill out music!