When I was young and attending school in a northern suburb of London we ate with our form at big wooden tables, family style, or family style with servers. The servers were apron wearing ladies who would roll a trolley to the table and set out the meal. Some of it was delectable — particularly dessert — because more often than not it was covered with custard sauce. Some things were mediocre, like elevenses, a snack of floppy brown bread topped with margarine, its only saving grace was the accompanying cup of tea. Then there were things that were mystifying, because they sounded familiar, like Spaghetti Bolognese, but were almost unrecognizable; limp noodles covered with a slippery gelatinous tomato sauce, speckled with suspect cheese and mystery meat — nothing like what I remembered from home.
It’s winter in the northern hemisphere so I thought I’d post a recipe for something endorphin releasing and cozy:
Spaghetti Bolognese, the way my mother made it.
Well, not exactly the way my mother made it. Mom would go to her favorite butcher and buy a pound of chuck and grind it at home with a metal contraption she attached to the counter that you hand-cranked — and out would come hamburger. I know it’s important to know where your food comes from, but I like a little more distance between myself and once living ingredients.
Back to the Bolognese
In a separate pan fry three pieces of bacon until crisp, blot with paper towels and set aside. In a large skillet sauté one large diced onion in olive oil until it is caramelized. Mince three cloves of garlic and toss into the pan and stir for thirty seconds, never brown your garlic. Add a pound of ground chuck and stir around with a fork until partially cooked, add a splash of half-and-half (this will tenderize the beef) and sauté until done. Add 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, one handful of fresh basil, and one bay leaf. Crumble your crispy bacon into the meat mixture. Pour in one large can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes, one glass good wine (white or red, but red makes your sauce a little purple), simmer for one hour until the flavors are developed. Salt and pepper to taste then serve on top of spaghetti with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
All my ‘piccoli segreti” have to do with Hollywood, but I have a nasty winter cough right now so I have been slack about everything but napping and hydrating. I haven’t got Pippa’s narration of chapter six of It’s in His Kiss on SoundCloud, but I will post all the tracks so far so you can get caught up…