Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tweaking the Bolognese Sauce Recipe

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Bolognese pasta sauce recipe I snapped up from an O magazine. Let's admit it, the recipe looks awfully intimidating to carry out. But really, when you get past the thought of it taking four hours to make, cooking it is child's play. The best part of it is that you will not get crucified by your siblings when you make them wait for dinner until 11 p.m. on the promise that they will have the best spaghetti they will ever taste in their entire life.

I'd been meaning to try the Bolognese recipe ever since I got it but I guess I was waiting for an occasion special enough that's worth slaving away in the kitchen for four hours for. The family event two days ago, fell in that "special occasion" category so right after work, I drove straight to the supermarket to do some grocery shopping. Having thought about making the dish on the fly, I did not have the foresight to print out the recipe so I had to go online with my 3G phone to get it. It's a good thing nowadays, people no longer look at you funny when you're staring at your cellphone while you push around a shopping cart in the grocery.

Although SM supermarket's grocery selections is pretty substantial, you don't see much of ingredients that up to now you only get from gourmet specialty stores and delis. Like pancetta. I have never seen pancetta in any SM supermarket I'd been to. (I am not sure about Makati supermarket in Alabang though. Makati supermarket has a good selection of Santis Deli goods-- sausages, cold cuts, cheeses-- in their chiller.)

As substitute for pancetta, I got Purefoods honeycured bacon. I wasn't able to find allspice either. I decided to just skip that altogether. Although I did get the Hunt's diced tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano. I thought that should take care of the spice/flavors called for in the recipe. The Hunt's can, by the way, contains only 14.5 ounces of diced tomatoes, .5 ounces short, so I decided to add a small can of tomato paste into the sauce. Instead of parmigiano-reggiano, I got good old reliable parmesan cheese. I didn't want to use the dry grated parmesan cheese you normally get in the cylinders so I got some freshly grated parmesan cheese by Millel. It comes in this ingenious seal lock bag that keeps the cheese in tiptop condition in the fridge. I didn't want to buy a new bottle of dry wine because I had an open bottle of red wine in the fridge, left over from the filet mignon lunch I prepared for the family. Remembering a suggestion in my comment box before, I thought about thinning out the bitterness, and at the same time adding to the sweetness of, the red wine by combining 3/4 cup of red wine and 1/4 cup orange juice to substitute for the white wine called for in the original recipe. What orange juice, you ask? Tang! What did I tell you about child's play, huh?

I truly believe good cooking is about having fun and improvising is a part of it.

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