Skip to main content

Italian lesson

Today, April 15, would have been Marcella Hazan's 90th birthday. In honor of all she taught us with her passionate and inspirational cooking, I'm reposting what I wrote when she passed away.

******

Earlier this week, Marcella Hazan died. She was 89 years old. A biologist turned cookbook writer and educator, she can be credited with introducing Americans to authentic Italian cooking.

Her food was simple but executed with the attention of an intense perfectionist. Reading her recipes provide as much critical information about techniques as they do ingredients.

Of her many repeat-worthy quotes, I love in particular that she said: The best ingredient in the kitchen is common sense.  

Yesterday, I made her bolognese. It's a five-hour sauce of uncomplicated ingredients.


Her original recipe includes cooking tips, such as:

The meat must be sautéed just barely long enough to lose its raw color. It must not brown or it will lose delicacy.

Use a fork to break the meat into crumbs.

The meat must be cooked in milk before the tomatoes are added. This keeps the meat creamier and sweeter tasting.



I served the sauce on fresh pappardelle and opened a bottle of Vino Noceto 2010 Sangiovese.   

An indigenous grape to Italy, Vino Noceto Sangiovese is made in Amador Valley, California. Marcella's husband, Victor Hazan, has written extensively on Italian Wine, but I decided to pair a California-grown version.

Vino Noceto Sangiovese is juicy and delicate with lots of cherry. It was lovely with the slightly sweet and creamy bolognese. A meal to truly feed the soul.

A little more on Sangiovese
Sangiovese (san-jo-veh-zeh), is the most widely-cultivated red wine grape in Italy, with more than 12 different clones grown in various regions. The wine can trace its history back to Roman times. Chianti and Chianti Classico are two prime examples of wines made with Sangiovese grapes. A full-bodied wine with medium to soft tannins, Sangiovese is a very food friendly.


Marcella Hazan's Bolognese
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
¾ pound ground beef chuck
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine (but I used Vino Noceto Sagiovese)
1-½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, torn into pieces, with juice
1-¼ to 1-½ pounds pasta (I used pappardelle), cooked and drained
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table


Preparation

1. Put oil, 3 tablespoons butter and chopped onion in a heavy 3-½-quart pot and turn heat to medium. Cook and stir onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat well.

2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat with a fork, stir well and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.

3. Add milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating, about 1/8 teaspoon, fresh nutmeg and stir.

4. Add wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.

5. Cook, uncovered, for at least 3 hours (5 hours if you're able), stirring from time to time. While sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it will begin to dry out and the fat will separate from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add ½ cup water as necessary. At the end of cooking, however, the water should be completely evaporated and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

6. Add remaining tablespoon butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Shelter in Place Salads

A friend recently celebrated her birthday. She had at the center of her shelter in place celebration, a salad. It's clear why that would be such a special dinner. When we're trying to shop as infrequently as possible, a salad definitely feels like a luxury.  Here are some salad options that allow you to enjoy greens well after your shop day, because they rely on produce with longer shelf lives.  Kale and Toasted Walnut Cesar Salad  Kale will stay fresh for two weeks if stored properly. The hearty green likes to stay dry and reside in the coldest part of the fridge. So save washing kale for just before use. I've been buying the pre-packaged baby kale and leaving it in it's airtight packaging until we're ready to eat.  3 cups washed and dried baby kale (can also be made with chopped kale) 1/2 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted  Parmesan cheese 1 large garlic clove 1 lemon 2-3 shakes of hot sauce, such as Crystal 2-3 shakes Worcestershire sauce 1 teas

Raising dough on a rainy day

(written for Family Spotlight magazine) The rain seems particularly self-assured on this day. Falling boldly and bouncing up from the ground with enthusiasm, the audible beat provides a rhythm to the day that seems to declare: Make pizza! My kids’ playdate with friends is relegated indoors on a day like this, and the wet weather becomes all the more cozy knowing there is bubbling cheese, sweet marinara and crispy, tender pizza crust in our near future. Preparations I write out on a piece of paper the instructions for how to make enough dough for four pizzas. Basic pizza dough is a straightforward recipe. Listing the steps in numbered order and including the ingredients as part of the preparations as opposed to a separate list ensures that the directions are kid-friendly. I assemble the food processor and set out all the ingredients on the kitchen table. Now, I call to the kids: "Come make pizza dough." After an impassioned lecture on the dangers of the food-pr

Food, drinks and cozy home tweaks help celebrate the joy of staying in this winter

Hygge (pronounced hue-ga) is a Nordic notion of cherishing the comfort of home and togetherness through the cold, dark months of winter. By nesting indoors and taking time to enjoy the simple things in life, the Danes use stormy weather as an opportunity to grow in closeness with loved ones and friends. [WRITTEN FOR THE LOS ALTOS TOWN CRIER ] Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I asked Los Altos resident and interior design consultant Joy Sheerer (Instagram: @joysheererdesign), for her top tips on hygge-ing the home. WINTER’S LONG EMBRACE The cold days and dark nights of the winter season call for wrapping one another in love. To encourage a state of hygge in your home, look to fill your nest with elements that compel loved ones to slow down and linger longer indoors. Sheerer points out that many miss the greenery and twinkling lights of the holiday season. She advises bringing the outside back into the home in the months following December. “Add greenery – store-bought or f