Recently I posted about different kinds of red sauce, so here, in all fairness, is a recipe for white sauce, and it's a doozy, culled from a recipe in the New York Times, from a few years ago. Amanda Hesser was quite overcome by the dish at the Heidi da Emploi restaurant in Rome--I wish I had known about it when I was in that grand (sweltering) city last summer in June. But I didn't know and instead L'Artusi right here in Manhattan became the inspiration and subsequent cause for the recent search of a recipe online to make a bolognese bianco of my own. Baby made his own delicious, delicately thin, flat egg noodles similar to the tajarin noodles we had at L'Artusi to toss with the sauce. Here's the recipe I found from the New York Times, adapted from Heidi da Emploi in Rome, with our humble thoughts in italics. It IS really good.
Rigatoni With White Bolognese
Extra Virgin oil
1/2 sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped we used a regular Spanish onion as sweet onions can simply be too sweet, the carrots add enough sweetness
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 we used porcini mushroom bouillon that we brought back from Italy this year which is also available stateside and well worth hunting down
1 1/2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms rehydrated in 3 cups lukewarm water we used some dried Polish mushrooms that we had on hand, about half of the amount with more mushroom flavor from the porcini bouillon
1/3 cup heavy cream probably a little more, I like to see the creamy whiteness in the sauce
1 lb rigatoni Baby's homespun, hand-cut egg noodles unfurled so wonderfully on the plate, and made the whole dish a delight
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese we used Romano cheese that we had, though it hardly needs any enhancement anyhow--but we did add freshly grated nutmeg that we think is an essential addition to any hearty sauce!
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 individual bowls, passing the cheese at the table.
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