Developing Depth with Time

Boston and I have a love-hate relationship. There are times when I can’t get enough of this place, wanting to breathe in every ounce of its thriving energy and warmth. Then there are times like this weekend, when the temperature drops to 8 degrees F without warning.  Needless to say, I am not built for this. My beloved Le Creuset becomes a regular in my kitchen during these unbearable conditions. I had a group of friends over the other night as a belated birthday dinner for my friend Sev (featured previously on this blog for his renowned fondue), and it was yet another bone-chilling evening. With my Le Creuset fired up and ready, I made a hearty batch of Ragù alla Bolognese that fought off the chilly weather quite beautifully.
Whether using a dutch oven or a slow cooker, the key to a good bolognese is low and slow. Like a stew, the flavor deepens beautifully the longer it simmers. Authentic bolognese calls for chunks of meat, so the longer it stews the more tender the meat can become. This bolognese, on the other hand, calls for ground chuck, giving you the option to cook it as short as 30 minutes or as long as 4 hours. Thanks to the Pioneer Woman, this recipe had gone viral in the blogosphere. I made a few changes (like the addition of hot sausage) and wanted to give it an authentic edge by cooking it for hours. I also served it over spaghetti (what I had), though the traditional pairing is tagliatelle. The result was fabulous – click HERE to see how to make this beautiful, soul-warming sauce.
I thought a lighter side would be appropriate for this dish, yet wasn’t keen on the “salad” idea. With that, I made Lemon-Garlic Broccoli that, to my surprise, almost outshone the main course! It’s quite simple, with no more than a handle of pantry staples and ready to go in under 30 minutes. Trust me, TRY this side dish – you won’t regret it. Click HERE to see the recipe.
For the pairing, I wanted to emphasize the developed flavor this dish receives from cooking for a long period of time. That depth of flavor led me to Chopin’s Étude Op. 25, No. 12 “The  Ocean”. The entire work is structured on falling and rising arpeggios, hence the oceanic appellation, with modulations developing the theme throughout. The work climaxes in C Major, and ends in a massive arpeggio covering five octaves . The richness of these piece is perfect for this bolognese sauce. The recording below is with Vladimir Horowitz – enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o6v_myVAhQ

Sources Cited:
“Étude Op. 25, No. 12 (Chopin)” Wikipedia.com 

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