June 21, 2013

"Red Rice" Bolognese


When I was younger, my Mom-Mom Mary Chip used to make what she called, "Red Rice".  It was a simple dish, as far as I know, consisting of just our homemade "gravy" (marinara) and steamed white rice.  Almost like she was making a bowl of spaghetti, but she ran out of pasta and she could only find rice.  I never really liked it (sorry, Mom-Mom)... however, my sister LOVED it.  Couldn't get enough!

Therefore, this recipe takes after that, except with a better spin.  Bolognese is one of my favorite sauces, especially when three different kinds of ground meat are used, along with lots of red wine and chopped mushrooms.  Usually, it takes quite a few ingredients, and quite a few hours.  It's one of those sauces that you need to let simmer for a while to let it reduce, thicken, and really take on all of the flavors of all of the ingredients.  This is a quick and easy version that won't take you all day, but still tastes great.  It's missing some key ingredients that I would normally use to make a true bolognese (carrots, onions, celery, different types of meat, etc.) but like I said, it's supposed to be quick and easy.  Read on...

What You'll Need:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. pancetta, diced in small cubes
1 lb. ground beef
2 tbsp. minced garlic
6 oz. tomato paste
8 oz. fresh mushrooms (I like shiitake), diced
10.5 oz. crushed tomatoes
An array of herbs: oregano, parsley, basil, bay leaf
2 tbsp. heavy cream
 1/2 cup dry red wine, divided
2 cups white rice
1 quart of water
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp. butter

Let's get started:

1.  Start by coating your pan with the olive oil and frying your pancetta until crisp.  Add your ground beef to the pan and break it up with your wooden spoon or spatula while it is cooking.

2.  When your beef has browned all the way through and there is a nice caramelization (I think I made that word up) on the bottom of your pan, add your garlic and tomato paste, which gives it a deep and hearty flavor.  When the tomato paste has incorporated, add your mushrooms and cook down.

3.  When your mushrooms have cooked down, add 1/4 cup of your red wine to the pan, and using your utensil, scrap up all the bits and pieces from the bottom of the pan that were left from when you cooked off your pancetta and beef.  The wine will deglaze the pan and bring out a serious array of flavor.  Let your sauce cook down to reduce by half.

4.  When the sauce has reduced, add the can of crushed tomatoes, all of your herbs, and the cream.  Incorporate well.

5.  Finally, add the remaining 1/4 cup of wine and turn your burner down to low.  Let your bolognese simmer on low for about 20-30 minutes (uncovered!), or until it has thickened and reduced down to a consistency you like.

6.  While your sauce is simmering, cook your rice.  For most rice dishes, you would use a 2:1 ratio.  2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.  Since we are using 2 cups of rice, you will need 1 quart of water. When your rice is fully cooked, and the chicken broth and butter and stir until dissolved.  This gives your rice a lot more flavor.  Season your rice to your liking with salt, pepper, parsley, etc.

7.  Arrange your cooked rice on a large platter and generously spoon the bolognese over the rice.  Top with some more fresh herbs and some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!!


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