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Homemade Tagliatelle with Venison Bolognese

March 11, 2010

by Elizabeth

Last Sunday, I went way out of my comfort zone. Not only did I spend an hour cranking dough through my pasta machine, but the bolognese I made was not my grandmother’s. I abandoned the recipe I now know by heart, the recipe I watched her make me countless times because it was the only dinner I requested when I ate at their house, the recipe that only takes an hour (tops) instead of three.

This bolognese is definitely more authentic than the one I grew up with, aside from the venison of course. It is richer, deeper in flavor, earthier. But I couldn’t resist adding extra herbs to make it taste more like my grandmother’s. So sorry to anyone who feels that a sauce isn’t a bolognese unless it’s made just so. I still think it turned out to be quite a good bolognese sauce, one I’ll file away for another dreary Sunday afternoon.

Now for the pasta. Homemade pasta is just better, tout les temps. It is delicate and light and so much more flavorful. If I was a stay at home dog mom and had endless hours to play in the kitchen, I would completely convert to homemade pasta and kick that stuff from the box to the curb. But, that is obviously not going to happen anytime soon (le sigh) so for now homemade pasta is rare treat. Unless of course you spend 3 hours making 140 raviolis and then freezing them for several future meals…but we’ll talk about that next week.

Venison Bolognese

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small)

3/4 cup finely chopped carrot (about 3 carrots)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs ground venison (you could substitute lean beef or turkey, I guess)

1/3 lb diced pancetta or bacon

1 6 oz can tomato paste

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups red wine

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 – 2 tablespoons Italian seasonings (or a mixture of dried spices)

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon pepper

Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, for serving

In a dutch oven, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrot, and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent and the carrots brighten in color, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta or bacon in a small skillet until browned. Set aside.  Add the ground meat to the dutch onion and cook until it is all browned. Add the reserved pancetta or bacon.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the milk, and let the bolognese cook until the liquid is absorbed. Pour in the red wine and do the same, the sauce should be almost dry. Add the crushed tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper, and season to taste. Now, let it simmer. For 2 hours, preferably, or until your pasta is ready and your husband is hungry. Serve with grated cheeses.

Homemade Tagliatelle

adapted from Trattoria Grappolo

5 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups all purpose flour

Mix the eggs, oil, and salt in a small bowl. Pour the flour into the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until it forms a ball. If it won’t form a ball in the food processor, put the dough on a lightly floured surface and kneed it until it is smooth.

Separate into 3 equal size balls and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. I like to let it come back to room temperature before I roll it out with the pasta machine.

Follow the instructions of your pasta maker to roll out the dough. Roll it to the second thinnest setting and then cut it into 1 cm strips, either using the cutting attachment or by hand. As the tagliatelle are cut, toss them with a bit of flour and make “nests” of pasta while you finish (see above picture). When you are ready to cook the pasta, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. The tagliatelle take about 3 -4 minutes to cook.

This whole process will take much longer than you expect, and cranking the pasta machine is hard work, but it is also sort of therapeutic. And so, so worth it.

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