Rigatoni bolognese with roasted garlic bread

By Camille Moore
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One of my favourite types of pasta is a Bolognese – it’s rich, meaty, and oh so comforting. I love when it’s done right, which means that rather than plain noodles dropped into a bowl with a pile of sauce ladled on top, it’s tossed with just enough meaty sauce to coat and canoodle with every tube of pasta, leaving just enough behind in your plate to sop up with a piece of garlic bread. Ragu alla Bolognese originates from northern Italy where the cuisine uses a lot of meat, dairy, and favours foods that take time to prepare. This meat sauce is no exception requiring three to four loving hours to tenderize the meat and achieve the ideal consistency. As such, I don’t believe in making small batches of Bolognese sauce. Instead, use your largest non-stick pot and double the batch at least because it freezes like a charm. When you have a craving simply reheat the sauce and boil the pasta fresh – I assure you that the quality and flavour of the dish remain uncompromised. Be sure to add this one to your list of freezer staples, trust me!

SERVES
8

Ingredients

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 stick salted butter, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 baguette
  • 900 grams lean ground beef (coarsely ground if possible)
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated on large holes (roughly 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 ribs celery, minced (roughly 1 cup)
  • 1 onion, minced (roughly 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 x 156 milliliter cans tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Rigatoni pasta (desired quantity)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, to garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 425F.
  2. Slice top quarter off head of garlic and discard or use for another dish. Place remaining garlic onto a piece of foil, leaving enough material to fully wrap and seal the head. Dress garlic with olive oil and salt, wrap tightly in foil, place onto a baking dish (to protect your oven from oil spills), and bake until soft – about 45 minutes. Cool completely before squeezing bulbs out of paper and mashing with a fork.
  3. To make garlic butter simply combine the mashed garlic, butter, and parsley. Refrigerate if not using that day – keeps for a couple weeks in the fridge). Slice baguette in half lengthwise and spread generously with garlic butter. Refrigerate or set aside until needed.
  4. For the Bolognese sauce: add beef to a cold, large, non-stick pot, making sure to use one with a lid. Heat over medium-high while using the tip of a wooden spoon to break up the meat and stir. The meat will start to release its natural juices and will appear to be boiling in liquid for a few minutes. Shortly those juices will evaporate, and the beef will be left to fry and brown in its own rendered fat. At this point once the juices have evaporated it’s time to add the butter – stir to combine and coat the meat. Keep stirring the meat occasionally and let it get as brown and caramelized as possible in places.
  5. Once the meat is browned add the aromatics (carrot, celery and onion) and continue stirring for a minute or two.
  6. Add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan for one minute.
  7. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Cook two minutes, then add the milk, stock, and bay leaves. Stir to incorporate and bring to a gentle simmer. If your stove has a simmer function use that to ensure the bubbles are nice and gentle. Cover and braise for three to four hours, stirring every now and then, until the meat is so tender it basically melts in your mouth. Note: sauce should not be sticking to the bottom of the pan. If it is, lower the heat and/or add small amounts of stock as needed.
  8. When it’s time to eat, bake the garlic bread in a 425°F oven until bread is crisp and golden around the edges. Boil the desired amount of pasta according to package directions for al dente. Heat the Bolognese sauce and toss with the hot rigatoni. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.
  9. Note: As a guide, I like to use about 1/2 cup to a scant cup of sauce per portion of pasta. But there are no rules, you may prepare it to your own taste. 

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