So my attention wavered.  It’s span is quite limited.   Aside from Bouchon, I also visited the Mario Batali “B&B restaurant” while in Vegas.  I went for dinner twice and had both tasting menus.   Very inspirational as well, and I also purchased a couple Batali cookbooks when I returned.  I also happened to visit Esca twice (I live a block away), Del Posto and Babbo over the course of a couple weeks (All Batali restaurants)  I’ve never been a fan of Bolognese until I had it  at B&B in Vegas.  It was more than just ground beef and tomato sauce.  This is one of those moments where I was proven wrong and I loved it!  I had it again at Del Posto and Babbo.  After all that, I decided to give a shot to making Bolognese sauce myself.

I took a trip to Eataly to get all the ingredients. I got great olive oil, tomato paste, meat from the famous “Pat LaFrieda”, product from the green market,etc.  If things go wrong, I will know it’s me and not the ingredients!

First step is to chop and sweat all the produce.  The book recipe only suggest olive oil, but a video I found has a mix of butter and olive oil.  So this is sort of a hybrid recipe.

Sweating away.  Learning from my experiences from last time, I will try to not to keep the heat too low and on TV, Batali always seems to run the temperature pretty high, so I’ll just keep everything a nudge higher than medium.

Sweat done and added the meat.  So far so good.  Everything is looking good and the times are matching up with what the video suggests.  (The vegetables should be done sweating at about the 15-30 minute mark).  Next is to cook down the meat for 45 minutes.

In the video, Batali uses the words “scorchy” and other words making me think that it should be browner than I think it should be.  I’m pushing it more than I think I should, but it still smells good and not burnt.  Although little “extra-brown” bits are showing up…

Browned it as far as I thought I should and added the tomato paste.  Letting this brown as well before the rest of the stuff goes in.  Still smells good and everything has a reddish rust tinge to it, just like he says in the video.

Ok, added the milk, thyme, and wine.  Let it reduce for a little bit, covered and let simmer for an hour.  I put the stove as low as it will go.  Cooking is done and it looks a little “over-browned”..  (I.E. burnt)  Tastes sort of ok.  I’ll continue on with the pasta and see how it works.  I’m getting a little skeptical.

Put a little in a skillet while I boil the pasta.

Cooked the pasta with the sauce for the last minute.  And only used a little bit of the sauce, as Batali always recommends.

I’ve had a few hours to think about today’s efforts and I decided I definitely burned it at some point.   When I tried to wash the enameled pot, there was a layer of black mass at the bottom that I couldn’t see because the enamel is also black.  I’m starting to think I should’ve went with the white-bottomed Le Creuset instead!  It lets you see what is going on a little better.  It’s probably why they use it for TV all over the place.  Thinking back to the Onion Soup attempt, something similar happened.   I was cooking the onions fine in the stock pot, but the next day I finished the onions in the Staub (enameled pot).  There were also bits of “over-browning” there as well.   After a little bit of searching, people seem to say you need to cook with less heat than with your typical steel/aluminum pans.  On top of my resolve to not undercook anything this time, the new Staub pot doubled down on that and stuff got burnt.   And to “gild that lily” I tried to get away with my 2.5 qt pan to cook the pasta, and that ended up undercooked.  I guess less water = less overall heat and the cooking time is affected.  A good day for learning, but not a good day for eating :(   After thinking through all of this, I realized I already had most of the ingredients to try this again.  I just needed a little more meat.  I went back to Eataly and restocked.  I’ll try and address everything that I think went wrong.  Until tomorrow Signore Bolognese!

Attempt #2:
I didn’t want to start a whole new post with only one photo.  This time the texture was better, but it was tasteless.  I think this time I didn’t let it brown enough.  I need to find the middle ground.  I think I need to leave the heat medium-low, and just let it go longer,  even if its longer than the recipes say. I’ll probably give this another shot next week.  (or tomorrow if I’m inspired) It was also a little too oily, not sure what to do about that.

Attempt #3:
The third attempt went pretty much like the second.  I told myself I would let the meat keep going until it browned.  I gave up afterr it cooked for about 2 hours and still didn’t brown.  I finished the recipe and it was as tasteless as Attempt #2, except the meat was pretty much disintegrated on top of everything!

Attempt #4:
Success!  This time I halved the recipe.  I guessed (correctly) that my pot was too small for this recipe.  It’s a 5 quart pot, which is an appropriate size for my little stove.  I guess that it is much smaller than the typical “family-sized” pot.  I think I could have done the full recipe in this one, but I think I would have had the heat on way higher and constantly stir so nothing burns.   From all the previous attempts, I think I was closest on the first try, then went down the wrong direction in trying to fix it.

This time, after halving the recipe, there seemed to be so much less oil and the meat browned right at 45 minutes when the recipe said it would!  It may look a little similar to previous attempts, but the flavor was there this time.  I also did the pasta correctly this time.  Fresh pasta from eataly, and they recommend 2-4 minutes, but I had to do it for 4.5 minutes.  And that is before cooking it further in the pan with the sauce.  One might think that I’m going past al dente, but this is the same “bite” that Babbo had, so nya!