Amanda Hesser brought white bolognese and rigatoni to our radar in her book Cooking for Mr. Latte.
This is everything good Italian food is: rich, cozy and deeply flavourful.
We find the hearty comfort of these luxurious tastes mingled with wine and pasta utterly romantic.
The recipe also takes us back to a dreamy getaway at the elegant Palazzo in Las Vegas where the Mister declared himself over a gorgeous plate of turtei con aragosta (lobster and leek ravioli with shrimp, diced tomato and lobster-cream sauce) at Il Fornaio. The rest of the week was so, um, celebratory, we missed an opportunity to dine at Mario Batali’s CarneVino. Perhaps the recipe for Pappardelle Bolognese from The Babbo Cookbook will soothe our pining; perfect for digging into together on a cold night.
Another keeper is this Turkish variation of deconstructed lamb and eggplant dumplings, substituting farfalle for wrappers. It’s just as cozy and romantic to cook and share.
Similar to another amazing Batali recipe: Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage
So here are four — count ’em, four — recipes for staying warm on a cold night with the one you love…
White Bolognese with Rigatoni
Recipe from Amanda Hesser, Cooking for Mr. Latte
Unless we really effed up on proportions, we found this excessively meaty. We would happily up the veggie quotient, but still have plenty of sausage and beef.
Also, we should have tossed it together harder and smothered it with more cheese.
We expected the sauce to look a little more stroganoff-ish. It’s a rich dish to be sure, and the pasta does soak up the sauce. It is lovely.
extra virgin oil
1/2 a sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped.
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb mild Italian pork sausage meat, removed from casings.
1 lb ground beef(not lean)
1 1/2 cups dry Italian white wine
1 cube beef bouillon dissolved in 2 cups simmering water
1 1/2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms rehydrated in 3 cups lukewarm water
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 lb rigatoni
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Add enough oil to a large, deep saute pan to coat the base and place over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion, carrots and celery and saute until glassy and just tender, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the sausage and beef to the pan, breaking it into walnut-size pieces, and brown well.
Pour in the wine and keep at a rapid simmer until the pan is almost dry. Then pour in 1 1/2 cups beef bouillon and lower the heat to medium. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the bouillon is nearly gone, stirring now and then. Meanwhile, chop the rehydrated porcini into small pieces, reserving the liquid.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add mushroom liquid to the sauce to cover the meat halfway(about 1 cup) along with the porcini and continue simmering until the sauce is loose but not soupy, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, it should be highly seasoned. When the consistency is right, fold the cream in. Remove from the heat and cover.
When the pasta water is at a full boil, add the rigatoni and cook until still firm, but not hard, in the center. When the pasta is almost done, scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and reserve. Drain the pasta and then return it to the pot. Pour the pasta sauce on top and fold in with a wooden spoon. The pasta should not be dry. Add a little pasta water or mushroom liquid to loosen it. (It will continue to soak up sauce on the way to the table.) Serve in one large bowl or indiviual bowls, passing the cheese at the table.
Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 lbs veal, ground
1 lbs pork, ground
1/4 lbs pancetta, ground
1 can tomato paste
1 cup milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper
In a 6- to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic, and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Brown over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking. Add the tomato paste, milk, wine, and thyme, bring just to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with pappardelle pasta (use Trader Joe’s egg pappardelle pasta).
Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano over pasta and ragu.
Pasta With Turkish-Style Lamb, Eggplant and Yogurt Sauce
recipe from New York Times
1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, in 1/2 -inch cubes
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, more to taste
3 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, preferably Turkish or Aleppo (see note), more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill, more to taste
1/2 pound bowtie or orecchiette pasta
2 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, to taste
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta.
Toss eggplant with 4 tablespoons oil and a large pinch of salt. Spread on a baking sheet, making sure there is room between pieces, and roast until crisp and brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and the shallot and sauté until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lamb, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Sauté until lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in mint or dill and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir eggplant into lamb. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter: the amount is to your taste. Let cook until it turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, remaining garlic and a pinch of salt.
Drain pasta and spread on a serving platter. Top with lamb-eggplant mixture, then with yogurt sauce. Pour melted butter over top. Sprinkle on additional red pepper and more mint or dill. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings.
Note: Turkish or Aleppo (Syrian) red pepper flakes are sold at specialty markets and at kalustyans.com. You may also substitute ground chili powder. Do not use crushed red pepper flakes; they will be too hot for this dish.
Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage
Recipe by Mario Batali
1 pound shelled sweet peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups mint leaves, 16 leaves reserved for garnish
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 recipe Basic Pasta Dough
1 recipe Basic Tomato Sauce
1 pound Merguez (spicy lamb sausage), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 pound Grana Padano cheese, for grating
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Set up an ice bath nearby. Submerge the peas into the boiling water and cook until tender yet still bright green, 1-2 minutes. Remove the peas with a slotted spoon, reserving the boiling water, and plunge them into the ice bath to cool. Once the peas have cooled, remove them from the ice bath and allow to dry on a plate lined with paper towels.
Using the same water, blanch the mint leaves for just 10-15 seconds. Transfer immediately to the ice bath. Drain well.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peas, mint, Parmigiano-Reggiano and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper and pulse to form a smooth paste.
Using a pasta machine, roll out the pasta dough on the thinnest setting and then cut the pasta sheets into 3-inch squares. Place 1 tablespoon of the pea filling on each square and fold over to form rectangles. Continue filling and shaping until all the pasta and filling are used. Cover and refrigerate until needed or place on baking sheets between layers of dish towels and freeze overnight. The next day, place in freezer bags and store up to 1 week.
In a medium saucepan, bring the tomato sauce to a boil. Add the sausage, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour, skimming off the fat as it is rendered from the meat. Remove the sauce from the heat, cool briefly, and pulse it in a food processor until smooth.
Transfer to a 12-inch skillet and keep warm.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce. Toss gently over high heat for 1 minute. Add the reserved mint leaves, toss 1 minute more, then divide evenly among eight warmed dinner plates. Grate the Grana Padano over each plate and serve immediately.