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Ragù Alla Bolognese: What Nobody Talks About...

You have a link(s) to more pertinent threads because I have come across anything other than a mention?

Apr 11, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

Ragù Alla Bolognese: What Nobody Talks About...

There is a tremendous amount of discussion here on Chowhound about the "how to" behind Bolognese...I feel kind of guilty about adding another one, but... unless I somehow overlooked it, nobody nails the crux of the technique which is critical for making a great Bolognese.

That critical step is the slow rendering of all the fat out of the meat and the ensuing deep browning that occurs resultant of the maillard reaction between the natural sugars from the aromatics and tomato paste reacting with the meat proteins.

Start with the battuto of aromatics, a seasoned mirepoix and garlic is typical; (personally I skip the celery) sweat the vegetables down in butter- no oil because of the addition of milk later.

Once the soffritto is completely softened, and not brown whatsoever, only then do you add the meat which slowly renders...

What's critical here is to cook the meat long enough. This is where I feel many recipes, demonstrations, etc..fall short.

The meat needs to cook far longer than you'd normally think. All the water needs to be eliminated, and the end result is the meat and vegetables literally frying in the rendered fat at the bottom of the pan until deeply browned.

Only then is the paste added, and fried as well until caramelized; it should be a crackling and spitting affair.

Choice of meat is critical. There must be plenty of fat or it just won't work. My preference is a 70/30 beef (I use a minced wagyu or prime skirt), the addition of lamb, and a fatty pork.

When the base if fully browned, quite dark, then the milk is added. The temperature should be such that the milk incorporates and evaporates so quickly, that when mixed with the spoon, the meat & vegetable mixture lifts almost like a fast rising souffle. It will even have a cheesy aroma and flavor; an amazing transformation. It becomes creamy and velvet like. It should be soft.

In my experience this is what makes a Bolognese. The successful execution of this particular technique.

IMO you can take all the same ingredients, cook it as a sauce, but if you do not execute this technique mindfully it will not be a Bolognese.

Mario nails it in this video; I have not seen the proper technique filmed anywhere else:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqBqiG...

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

REAL pho eludes me!

Tonight's Pho!

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking
1

REAL pho eludes me!

Oh, I do all that if I want crystal clear clarity; it's not that I don't know how...

What gets my goat is all these folks who seem to achieve the same with pho, without going through all the classic steps required to get a clear beef broth.

The only way I see achieving that is if I don't let the broth develop to it's full potential...That's why I raised the question.

I'm of the opinion that a beef broth/stock isn't fully developed if it has consomme like clarity, without ever being clarified.

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

REAL pho eludes me!

I parboil, rinse, etc..and it remains clear for the most part...but when the smell and flavor shows up, it's past clear.

Translucent, not opaque, but not consomme clear like what is seen in so many photographs.

I think it's just the nature of brown stocks. It takes so much more time for them to develop, versus a chicken stock, that by the time they're really happening a great deal of the proteins have emulsified.

I'm going to clarify mine in about 20 minutes...but I need to play with quantities more to see if I can retain better clarity over the course of the cooking time.

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

REAL pho eludes me!

Chang Li is the place, for fish nobody is better than Randazzo's, and I go to Biancardi's or Peter's for meat...

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

REAL pho eludes me!

Not to hijack...but, the broth: "To be Clear or Not to be Clear?

I've heard from many that the best phos they've had are murky; even redolent with fat.

That makes sense to me simply because in order for the marrow to incorporate it emulsifies with the broth. I prefer to always de-fat a broth. When it's done the fat has done it's job and only serves to smear the flavor IMO.

The end product, after skimming and filtering, being not completely opaque, it does have a transparency, but certainly not crystal clear as a consomme.

What's the consensus here?

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking
1

REAL pho eludes me!

Yup, exactly...

I liken it to mixing music...I've played guitar for 30 +/- years.

When you're intently concentrating on a mix you're ears fatigue and they need a break or you'll begin to overcompensate for the fatigued sense.

You end you'll be chasing your tail, far away from the intended result.

Same happens with the nose & palette. Another point is to have something with which to cleanse your palette when tasting.

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

REAL pho eludes me!

You can't beat ingredients like that. I'm lucky to have an AMAZING asian market nearby as well as Arthur Avenue (The Bronx, NYC)...

What kills be about the Asian market is they have everything except bonito flakes! Drives me up the wall.

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

REAL pho eludes me!

I've seen people experience the supposed MSG reaction, therefore I prefer a natural ingredient which accomplishes the same. I find it to be much more integrated as well. Akin to the difference between using a truffle oil and real truffles.

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

REAL pho eludes me!

I find marrow bones and shin of beef to be an excellent combination. I'm lucky with my local butcher, I get free bones with any purchase. For pho it's the marrow bones and I get porterhouse bones.

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

REAL pho eludes me!

Incorporating truffle or kombu (Dried kelp used for making a Dashi) can accomplish the same; they have natural msg compounds...

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking

REAL pho eludes me!

Hello, if I could reply in general about stocks...

(I'm making Pho as I type...made the stock Monday, purified it yesterday and simmered the beef tendon until tender, today I'm going to clarify and serve...)

Stocks "bloom."

What I mean by that is if you actually step away from them for a while and stop with the mother-hen treatment, what you'll notice is that after a few hours, all of a sudden, the stock will become much more noticably aromatic.

When you taste you'll notice all the flavors have integrated. It may require reduction still, but in essence it has come into it's own.

It's something to look for, become aware of... In my experience, making a broth for pho, that bloom begins to occur at about the 6 hour mark, for an 11qt pot which will yield about 5 qts of stock after solids are removed.

A stock can be deadened by overcooking. You want to catch it when it blooms; it will have a delicate brilliance. You then carefully determine when it's reached it's full flavor. That may be another 1-3 hours. During this time you're seasoning, reducing, balancing the flavor.

The key is gentle cooking. Much of the time my stock is warm and steaming, almost never bubbling.

It is very much a Zen thing.

Enjoy.

Apr 10, 2013
UnfilteredDregs in Home Cooking
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