Friday, December 11, 2009

Joe's Spaghetti Bolognese

My roommate makes the most amazing, homey, hearty, rich, robust, delicious spag bol I've ever had in my life. Aside from the wild boar ragu at Myth (* sob *). note to self to get resos at Zinnia for Sean O'Briens wild boar meat sauce; nom.

He's made it twice now and every time I smell it cooking I come running. The first time I just had to have a taste, even though I had already eaten. The second time I was lucky enough to get my own gigantic portion. I determined then and there, that I simply must have this dish for my birthday dinner. He seemed to think I was teasing him, but oh no. This spag bol is the way I think spag bol was meant to taste. It's perfect.

Since he'll be off in lalaland (psh) for my birthday, I can't demand he make it for me and my friends as a gift in honor of the kickoff to my 32nd year on Earth. Damn.

What's a girl to do except to insist that he divulge all of his Mexican-English based Italian cuisine secrets? Last night was the night that he looked over my shoulder and walked me through it and well; I came close. There is just something that I can't quite grasp. Some weird, teeny tiny little spark that I was just unable to capture. Is it umami? Bay leaf? Acidity? I cannot tell but it was woefully absent from last night's attempt. To say I'm devastated is to put it mildly. That spark is what I wanted to serve! Without it, it's just spag bol! Good spag bol, but not Joe's LIFE ALTERING spag bol. It's a depth of flavor that I can't quite figure out, but I know I felt like I wanted to add a little wine to the sauce thinking that's what it was.

My birthday sucks already. :o( I hope someone brings cake.

Joe's Spaghetti Bolognese
serves 4-5
1 half of a medium/large white onion, finely chopped
1 half of a shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, smashed
8 oz of sliced mushrooms
1 lb ground beef (80/20 or 85/15 - you need some fat)
Mild Italian sausages - enough for each person to have one (I also used some of those Aidell's sundried tomato ones)
1 jar of Ralphs/Cala Foods tomato basil pasta sauce
pasta of your choice
olive oil
1-2 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
dried basil
4-5 bay leaves
Italian seasoning
red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese

Put a tbsp of olive oil into a large saute pan over med-hi. Add the butter and let melt.
Toss in the clove of garlic, the shallots, and about half to 2/3 of the onion and saute for a minute. Add mushrooms and saute just til the mushies get some color and start to soften. Pour the onion/mushie mixture into a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, add a teeny bit more oil (only if necessary to prevent sticking), and add the ground beef and remaining raw onion. Cook until browned and then pour off fat.
While meat is cooking in one pan, cook the sausages in another pan. Add a little oil so they don't stick, and sprinkle them with some Italian seasoning.

Add the jar of pasta sauce to the drained meat and stir the onion/mushie mixture back in. Toss in a tbsp or so of dried basil, a few dashes of red pepper flakes (you don't want it SPICY per se, just with a little bit of an undertone from the peppers), some oregano (1 - 2 tsps maybe?), and the bay leaves, and give it a good stir.
If the sausages are done, nestle them into the sauce as well, if not, you can do so once they are ready.

Let the sauce come to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover. Let simmer for 45 minutes or so; stirring a couple of times.

With 15 or so minutes left, get your pasta going.

Drain pasta, serve, and top with a generous portion of pasta sauce and a sausage. Top with a sprinkling of cheese.

Cry because of some undetermined depth of flavor that is missing that makes it not quite Joe's.
No wait, you don't even know what you're missing, so just enjoy it. I'll cry.

The clever gang over at Chowhound has plenty of nommy sounding suggestions too.


Cynical Siren said...

WIll it fail miserably if I substitute ground turkey and turkey sausage for the beef and pork?

Rogue Designs said...

I'm going to have to say yes. Well, sort of.
I make a decent spag bol with turkey, but it doesn't have the same depth of flavor as the fatty beef one, AT ALL.
(And I did use turkey sausage this time too; that part was great).
Maybe just use some more butter or get some duck fat like Quinn does?
You can always cook it longer too; that'll help deepen the flavors.
Let me know how it turns out!

Quinn said...

I hate to tell you this, but it's the start of your 33rd year, when you turn 32. Wish I could be there. I would bring a cake!

Rogue Designs said...

You shoosh your mouf.

Rogue Designs said...

I'm happy to whisper secretly that the last time Joe made his own sauce his damn self it wasn't nearly as nommy as the version I was trying to recreate. Guess it's not just me after all.