Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Babbo Bolognese with Pappardelle

A couple years ago, I had the pleasure of eating at Babbo in New York.  The meal was divine, the atmosphere was lively (who blares Guns 'n Roses in a place like this?  Apparently Mario Batali), and I've been dreaming of my pasta dish ever since.  Fast forward to my recent Chapters visit.  I sit down to peruse the Babbo cookbook, and happen upon the goat cheese ravioli with fennel and orange - the dish I ate at the restaurant!  I had to buy the book.  OK so the first dish I made wasn't that amazing ravioli - it was this bolognese with pappardelle.  It was just going to be simpler than the ravioli.  While I've made better bolognese sauces (check out the one in Stir), this is still very tasty and perfectly soul-warming.  Plus, you'll love the satisfaction you get from freshly-made pasta.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

FOR THE BOLOGNESE (note: give yourself at least 2 hours for this - cooking time is 1.5hrs.  You'll also have lots of extra bolognese you can freeze!)

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, finely minced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  • parmigiano-reggiano, for serving
FOR THE PASTA DOUGH (you will need a pasta machine, or very good rolling-pin skills.  If you don't have either, opt for high quality dried pasta such as De Cecco or Barillia, or fine fresh pasta)
  • 3-1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 extra large eggs (try to get farm-fresh or organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  1. Mound 3-1/2 cups flour in the centre of a large wooden cutting board or food-safe counter surface.  Make a well in the middle of the flour with your hand, and add the eggs and olive oil into the middle of the well.  Using a fork, beat together the eggs and olive oil, then begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.  You really don't want to break the walls of the well until you have a thick enough dough so be careful!
  2. The dough will come together once at least half of the flour has been incorporated.  Then, start kneading the dough with the heels of your hands (tip: it's a good idea to lightly coat your hands in olive oil to keep the dough from sticking).  Once you have a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits.  Lightly re-flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes.  The dough should be elastic and a little sticky, and about the softness of an ear lobe.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling.
  1. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and sweat until the vegetables are translucent but not browned - about 5 minutes.  Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the veg.  Brown over high heat, stirring to keep meat from sticking.  Once the meat is browned, add the tomato paste, milk, wine and thyme.  Bring just to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1.5 hours (the longer this simmers, the better it will taste!).  Season with salt and pepper.  Don't forget to taste it!
  2. Cut your pasta dough into quarters.  Roll it out into an oblong shape, thin enough to fit through the widest fitting of your pasta machine.  Roll the dough through, continuing to adjust the knob on your pasta machine before each new pass, so you progressively get to the thinnest setting.  Do not skip a level!  Mine has 8 levels - you must do all of them.  Once you have thin sheets of pasta, cut them into 1-1/2 inch wide strips.  Set aside on a baking tray with layers separated by wax paper.  You can given them a light dusting of flour if you think they're sticking too much.
  3. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
  4. At this point you can transfer 2 cups of the ragu (the bolognese sauce) to a 12 to 14 inch sauté pan and heat gently over medium heat.  Cook the pappardelle in the boiling water until tender, about 1 minute.  Drain the pasta , and then add it to the pan with the ragu and toss over medium heat until it's evenly coated and the sauce is dispersed, about 1 minute.  Divide equally among 6 to 8 warmed bowls.  Grate the cheese over each bowl and serve immediately.
For a decent video on making pasta dough, click here, and on using the pasta machine click here (except I don't run the dough through 4-5 times on each setting ... once or twice is enough).

And, to quote Virigina Wolf, "Uno non può pensare bene, amare bene, dormire bene, se non ha mangiato bene" - One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one hasn't eaten well.  

Buon Appetito!

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