August 5, 2011
From the test kitchen: Biba's Bologna-style ragu

sauce3.JPGBiba Caggiano has a nice new book, "Spaghetti Sauces," 129 pages of spaghetti sauce recipes of all kinds, from basic butter sauces ready in 10 minutes to seafood sauces and and meat sauces like the one I have simmering right now -- simmering for 2-plus hours.

The latter recipe is for Bologna-style ragu. Bologna is the city in Northern Italy where Caggiano was born and raised. She then moved to the U.S. and eventually opened one of Sacramento's most respected restaurants. Click on the pictures to make them bigger; apologies, but there is no aroma feature with this software.

This sauce builds flavor slowly, beginning with melting butter and then cooking minced carrots, celery and onion.

sauce2.JPGThen you add ground beef, pork and veal, along with small cubes of pancetta. This cooks at high heat for about 10 minutes.

Next, I poured in a cup of red wine and cooked that down until most of the wine had evaporated. More flavor (and the kitchen smells great).

Then comes time for the classic ingredient -- a 28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes. The book says to puree them in a blender. But I went with doing it by hand the way they do in Italy -- squeezing the tomatoes until they were pretty much liquefied. Then the tomatoes are added to the pot and simmered -- and simmered -- for two-and-a-half hours.

sauce1.JPGIt thickens and the flavor deepens over that time. I will be writing a short story on the book, along with a few recipes in the upcoming Food and Wine section on Wednesday

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