Shiftwork Bites: Pasta Bolognese

I really need to stop making pasta at work. All those carbohydrates make me sleepy. Of course, pasta is one of the easiest things to prepare with limited space and equipment, so it's always tempting to dash out the door with a plan for Bolognese, which is exactly what I did recently.

I'm sure some would cry foul over my method; people get downright fanatical about Bolognese. I don't care. It had all the hallmarks of the real deal. Reductive as it may be, my Bolognese is pretty straightforward: ground or finely chopped meat, cooked with aromatic vegetables, then simmered in both wine and milk, consecutively, for a long, long time.

For me, this meant the following:

Pasta Bolognese

  • Carrot, onion, celery, and garlic just sweated until soft, no color please.
  • ½ pound each of ground pork and beef, crumbled into the pan and browned.
  • A few ounces of diced pancetta tossed in.
  • One cup of dry vermouth (I didn't have white wine at home, and forgot to pick some up) added. Simmer over medium until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  • 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, with juice, added. Break the tomatoes up with the side of a spoon, or cut up in the can with kitchen shears. Simmer for as long as you can stand the smell without attacking the pot.
  • One cup of heavy cream added. Simmer over low until sauce combines and thickens slightly.

It sounds like a lot of steps, and it kind of is. It also takes forever to cook. I let this batch go for almost five hours. The entire office was perfumed with its scent, and we were going mad waiting for it to be done.

Patience paid off, though. The sauce rocked. It was rich, subtly gamy and piquant, with amazing depth of flavor.

It's a perfect Sunday supper, when you have all day to let it go while you putz around the house. It's also a perfect Shiftwork Bites dinner, for much the same reason. It doesn't hurt that the aroma sticks around in the hermetically sealed office environment, so that the next crew to come in has to smell it, but doesn't get to eat it. Cruel? Absolutely. Maybe it will help inspire the other guys to make some meals, themselves.

On a side note, the water bottle full of vermouth apparently perfumed the elevator, leading one of my colleagues to wonder if one of us was drinking on the job.

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