Monday, 6 December 2010

Bigfoot Bolognese

Why Bigfoot Bolognese ? Some friends of mine, who shall remain nameless (Gordon and Kim), had been 'ribbing' me that I always talked about my (Spaghetti) Bolognese but they had never seen it.

So they nicknamed it Bigfoot Bolognese and/or Sasquatch Spaghetti. I did end up cooking some for them though.

So, what does Bolognese have to do with photography ?

Well, nothing except that I also enjoy cooking. Have to have some other interests, don't I ?

Happy you asked now ?

About 30 years back a good Italian friend of mine, Angelo Mario Guiseppe Barbagello, taught me how to make the best Bolognese sauce. Not this mamsy pamsy syrupy tasteless nonsense they sell in the supermarkets, but the real deal.

If you're wondering, that really is his name.

Incidentally, I also have some Italian blood. Didn't really know this until around the time I started lusting after a blood red Alfa Romeo. What other colour could an Alfa be ?

Seems one of my (not so) distant Italian lineage forebears (Prospero) who was 75 and a recent widower married his 17 year old housekeeper (Martinoja) and started a new family.

My Mother's middle name was Marietta and none of us progeny ever knew why. Turns out that this was her Grandmothers name who was the daughter of Prospero and Martinoja.

We only found this out after my Mother had sadly passed away. However the whole family tree thing is another story. 

Anyway, I have been making this regularly ever since, and delighting diners around the globe. True story.

It is quite simple to make and ingredients can be added to, to suit your taste. For example, sometimes I add a little bacon, or some cloves.

Here is what you need.

What's in the picture ?
  • 500 grams of minced beef (or you can use pork, or 50/50 beef and pork, even chicken)
  • 2 large onions.
  • 3 largish carrots.
  • 4 medium sized zucchini's.
  • 3 capsicums. I always like to use one green, one red and one yellow. Looks better.
  • 1 500 ml bottle of water.
  • 2 400 gram tins of crushed tomatoes.
  • 1 170 gram tin of tomato paste.
  • 1 375 ml bottle of red wine.
  • Lot's of crushed garlic. At least 5, or 6, cloves.
  • 1 wine glass.
  • Cooking oil. I prefer to use Extra Virgin Olive oil, but on this occasion we were out.
  • Parmesan cheese, or any other cheese you prefer. I like to use grated Vintage Cheddar, at times.
  • Oregano, Basil, Black Pepper, Bay Leaves.
  • One very large pot, or two large ones. I use two large ones.
  • One frying pan.
  • One large wooden spatula.
  • 1 #3 chopping block. I have no idea why it has a 3 on it.
  • You will also need about four, preferably five, hours of your time.

Step one

Have someone chop up all the ingredients. After all, you're the Chef and that's not your job.

Drink two glasses of the wine and then pour the remainder into the pot, along with the water.

Just kidding about the wine, but I usually sip a couple of glasses during the cooking process. So, about half the wine is used in the cooking, or as it suits your taste.

Let it get to the boil and add the carrots. They take longest to cook.

Step two

Really this happens while all the rest is going on.

Put some oil in a pan and get it hot. When it's hot, but not yet explosive, put the meat in.

I do this in two batches as 500 grams is quite a lot of meat to cook unless you have a very large pan.

The trick here is to let it cook until most of the juicy stuff is gone. See the liquid in the pan ? We want almost all of that to disappear. Make sure you stir frequently.

Step three

When the meat is cooked, as described above, add a little more oil and the onions.

Make sure you keep stirring and cook until the onions start to turn clear, but not brown.

Step four

By this time, the carrots should have been cooking for about 10 minutes.

Add the cans of crushed tomatoes, all the remaining vegetables and the cooked meat and onions.

Cover the pot, turn the heat down a little, and bring it to a point where it is just starting to simmer.

Make sure that you check it and stir every ten minutes until it gets to a point where it is simmering. There is not a huge amount of liquid here and it is easy to have things stick to the bottom of the pot, and burn.

One of the secrets to this recipe is that it takes a long time to cook - Slowly ! Don't rush it.

Step five

Add the Oregano, Basil and the Bay Leaves. What I do is sprinkle Oregano over the surface until it is pretty much covered. I then do the same with the Basil. I will also often add more as it cooks.

Add about 6 large Bay Leaves and as much garlic as you think you can stand. I use about 5 crushed cloves for this quantity of meat and vegetables.

Step six

Once simmering, not boiling, cover the pot (put the lid on) and let it cook for the next four hours, or so. The longer the better. Remember, it is best cooked slow and long.

Note : If it is simmering properly, when you take the lid off the bubbling should almost stop

Make sure that you stir frequently. This is very important as there is only a small amount of liquid. I do this about every 15 minutes.

This is what it looks like after a few hours cooking.

Step seven

After about four hours of cooking, add the tomato paste and stir in well. Grind some black pepper over the mixture to suit your taste and remove the Bay leaves.

You've probably been taste testing all along, as I do, and you may need to add a little more red wine or garlic. I usually add a little more of each and then cook for another 15 - 20 minutes.

Now the tomato paste has been added, the mixture will be quite a lot thicker, so it's best to turn the heat down a bit.

Note : Sometimes I also spoon off a little of the excess liquid if there is too much

Anyway, that's pretty much it.

This will make 10 - 12 servings, depending how much you like to eat at one time. We usually eat some straight after it's cooked, and freeze the rest.

Boil some spaghetti, or other pasta and serve. Sprinkle cheese over the top and enjoy.

Tip : When boiling pasta, add a little salt and some oil to the water. This stops the pasta sticking together

It's great with garlic bread and a fresh side salad. With Italian dressing, of course.

Bon appetit ! Oops! That's French.

I ended up just having a very small bowl with some noodles - Too much tasting during the cooking

Notes - Since posting this some seven years back my nameless friends (Gordon and Kim) mocked me as I often talked about the recipe but they had never seen the product. They have since sampled same.

Originally the post was called Spaghetti Bolognese but has since been nicknamed Bigfoot Bolognese by them and I have also recently updated the post (December 2017) to reflect their derision.

A couple of years back I bought a hot pot (crock pot) and the recipe lends itself equally well to that. Enjoy.

Credits :
  • Recipe - Angelo Mario Guiseppe Barbagello
  • Chief chopper upperer, and cleaner upperer - My lovely wife.
  • Chef, writer and photographer - Me
  • Camera - Fujifilm F200 EXR with Slow Synchro flash



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