The Daring Bakers challenge has taken baking to a new a welcome change -- we're making pasta rather than sweets. The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge. The challenge recipe can be found on their blogs.
The central part of the challenge was to produce hand-made pasta. In this recipe, Kasper uses spinach pasta. She gives directions for both hand-rolling and using a hand-cranked machine to produce the dough. I've owned a hand-cranked machine for ions so I pulled it out for this recipe. The other requirement was to use a white (bechamel) sauce. The choice of ragu recipe was open and I chose to use a recipe for ragu alla Bolognese from chef Fabrizio Bazzani of Chianti il Ristorante in Saratoga Springs.
Bazzani offers cooking demonstration dinners at his restaurant and I attended one focusing on Emilia-Romanga earlier this month. For Bazzani, ragu alla Bolognese is about the meat. Here's how he makes it:
9.5 oz ground pork
9.5 oz ground beef
3 oz pancetta, chopped
3 oz prosciutto, chopped
6 oz sausage
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
1 full glass (or more) of red wine
9.5 oz ground peeled tomatos
Slat and Pepper
2 oz butter
2 oz extra virgin olive oil
Saute the pancetta, celery, carrot and onion with the butter and oil, season lightly with salt only. Add the ground meats, let it gain some color and pour in the wine. Let the wine evaporate then add the tomatos and a little broth (4 oz).
Lower the fire to a simmer and let it cook for three hours, adding broth if necessary. Toward the end, add the milk and let it finish cooking until it's been three hours. Season with salt and pepper at the end of the cooking time.
A word of caution -- the cooking ragu will smell wonderful -- given the aromatic vegetables, pancetta and proscuitto.