Monday, 18 November 2013

Bolognese sauce

Ragu alla bolognese, Bolognese sauce as they call it, is one of the most loved recipes of all Italian cooking tradition. Around the world it is declined in many different ways – not all of them very tasty – but I want to give you the original recipe – registered in the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna – were the name comes from.
My family recipe my family also includes some milk and peeled tomatoes instead of tomato paste.
This sauce is excellent for home made tagliatelle (an other typical dish of the Bologna area), pappardelle (same shape - a little bit larger), penne and in making lasagna (lasagne alla bolognese) in which is one of the world’s Italian favorite.

Recently (28-10-2015) there was a nice tv program on BBC.Please have a look!

Ingredients for 6 to 8

2/3 table spoons of oil
½ onion (40 grs.)
1 small carrot (40 grs)
1 stick of celery (50 grs)
700 grs of ground beef (85% lean)
700 grs /1,5 pint tomato sauce or 3 spoons tomato paste
50 gr oz. thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. tomato paste / (OR 1 tin peeled tomatoes approx. 400 gr.)
50 gr oz. thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
½ glass dry red wine or ½ glass of milk (my family recipe)
1 small pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper

How to:

1)  In a food processor or by hand finely chop the carrot, onion and celery.

2)  Put the oil in a large heavy pot over medium/high heat,bring it to the boil    and add the chopped vegetables. Stir well and sauté until soft (8-10 minutes).    Add the pancetta and let it cook.

    3)  Add the minced meat and let it brown, breaking the meat with a fork forabout 15 minutes.The meat should change its colour.

4)   Add the wine and let it evaporate (If you opted for my family versionadd   the milk and let it evaporate).

5) Add the tomato paste with at least 6 spoons of water (or the peeled   tomatoes with their juice) and let it simmer over the low heat for about an hour. (In case you used the peeled tomatoes, break them with the fork).

The sauce  should boil making small craters. Mix now and then until done. Taste it and add more salt if necessary.


This sauce can be made in advance and keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days or can be frozen in air tight containers.

Monday, 11 November 2013


The "osso buco" (bone with  a hole) is one of my daughter’s winter dishes, but as it takes at least 2 hours to cook, I usually prepare it on Sunday morning, while she sleeps and my husband plays basketball.

It is a typical dish of Northern Italy where tomatoes were not largely used. The original recipe has very little tomato, but as we like a lot the rewarding sauce of this dish, we prefer to add a little bit more to season the rice or polenta which comes with it.
The perfect side dish for Osso buco is Milanese Risotto (risotto alla Milanese) made with the best Carnaroli rice, but my girl does not like saffron as well so plain boiled rice could go.

Ingredients for 3 (not different for 4 except for the quantity of meat)

n. 3 slices of veal shank approx. 1 inch thick (or slices of turkey leg cleaned from the tendon). The bone must have its meat inside.
1 small carrot,
½ onion
1 stalk of celery as long as the carrot
50 gr. Butter
2 cups of hot vegetable/meat stock (lightly salted)
150 ml tomato sauce
Salt and pepper

To finish (gremolata)
Grated zest of one lemon
½ cup of finely chopped parsley leaves
½ clove of grated garlic  (not mandatory)

How to:

1)    Chop the vegetables very finely by hand or in the food processor;
2)    Melt the butter and bring it to a light boil;
3)    Put the chopped vegetables in the butter and let them cook until the carrot becomes yellow and soft;

4)    In the meanwhile season the meat with salt and pepper on both sides and flower it;

5)    Put the meat in the pan and let it brown for 2-3 minutes, then turn without piercing it to brown the other side;

6)    Move the meat, raise the heat and add 1 ladle of stock and bring it to the boil. 
It should form a sort of thick sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add more  stock, cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, turning the meat every now and then and mixing well the vegetables and sauce;

  7) After that, open the lid, the stock should be evaporated and add the tomato sauce. Bring to the boil again, and let it cool until the sauce is thick – mix it now and then to avoid the flour and vegetables to get stick to the pan;

   8) When ready, keep it warm, close the lid and prepare the finish, grating the zest of one lemon, the garlic and adding the chopped parsley;

9) Serve immediately with Risotto (see under) or plain rice;

Risotto alla Milanese
Ingredients for 4

If you are making it for the ossobuco, use a smaller quantity….

350 gr. Rice (Carnaroli or Arborio)
100 gr butter
1 shallots (40 grs. Approx) finely chopped
2 little envelops Italian saffron or pistils of saffron
1 liter of HOT meat stock (salted)
1 glass white wine
1 the meat inside the bone – if you can find it.
50 gr. of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (shredded)

How to:

1)     Put half of the butter in a heavy pan hand let it melt. Add the chopped shallot and let it get soft. Add the meat inside bone and let it melt it;
2)     Add the rice and toast it for 2-3 minutes turning it with a wooden spoon;
3)     On a high heat put the wine and let it evaporate completely. Then add the 1/3 of the boiling stock and mix it well. Let the rice absorb it nearly completely and add more;
4)     When only 1 cup of stock is left, dissolve the saffron in it and pour it in the rice;
5)     Mix until completely dry;
6)     Switch the heat off, add the cheese and the remaining butter and mix sharply for few seconds, Let it rest for a minute or two.

7)     This is a great first course as well!