Although not complicated, making good Bolognese is time comsuming. Pour your morning cup of coffee and start prepping your ingredients. That way you will have a wonderful sauce in time for the evening meal. Bolognese freezes well, so on "ragù day" I always make enough for at least three or four meals.
Every time I make a new batch, I experience a deep feeling of contentment and wellbeing. It's a sense of accomplishment that I imagine our foremothers felt at the end of summer as they finished successfully "putting-by" a bumper crop against the harsh winter ahead.
I never take my sauce from frozen to hot by microwaving it. I always thaw it completely, either on the counter or in the refrigerator, before simmering in a saucepan for use. To me it seems a sacrilege to take a ragù you've so lovingly created and then subject it to the profanity of a microwave.
Since Irene reported on the sauce itself last week, I'll move on to my use of the sauce in Marcella's recipe for Baked Rigatoni. I pre-heated the oven to 400º and buttered an oven-to-table casserole dish.
While the oven was heating, and the water was coming to a boil for the noodles, I reheated the Bolognese and made a medium--thick béchamel. The noodles were cooked until they were not quite al dente to accomodate the additional softening they would experience in the oven.
Drained noodles were immediately tossed with the two sauces and a heaping palmful of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano. It was all dumped into the buttered baking dish; smoothed out a bit and baked until a little bit of crust formed on the top and the edges of some of the exposed noodles browned a bit.
Last week, I had a meeting with the Bryan Siddle, Director of Operations for Crown Valley Winery. We were discussing the Aug. 21st appearance at Crown Valley by Todd Kliman, the author of The Wild Vine, a book about the Norton grape. At the end of our meeting, Bryan generously gifted me with two bottles of Crown Valley's 2004 Museum Collection Norton. It was a fitting compliment to Marcella's ragù. You will notice that I'm using stems instead of my usual country Italian everyday tumblers. That's because Bryan also presented me with two of the brand new Reidel Norton Wine Glass, and of course we had to try them out!