Il Corvo's Ultimate Bolognese Sauce
April 4, 2016



It still feels like winter here in Michigan!  I'm doing a lot of sewing and cooking wintry dishes like this one, until some nice weather arrives.  We do get to sneak out to Seattle, where one of our sons lives, where the weather is much nicer than here. And the food is so, so good! 

There is a wildly popular tiny Italian restaurant in Seattle's Pioneer Square area that has a line out the door every day.  It serves lunch only, Monday through Friday. It's Mike Easton's Il Corvo and it serves some of the best pasta in the city.  

Il Corvo has just three pasta dishes every day that they offer - all made in house to Mike Easton's impeccable standards.  The menu changes every day.  The food is reasonably priced and outstanding, which explains the line out the door.  They offer some vegetable sides and decent wines by the glass.  It makes for a very, very good lunch that is worth the wait.

Very soon, people will be able to buy Easton's pastas to take home with them at his new Il Corvo Pasta Studio, which is supposed to open this summer, 2016. 

This is Chef Easton's recipe for his Bolognese sauce.  He believes in taking the time to get a recipe right.  This is not your ordinary bolognese sauce - this recipe starts with toasted spices and the sauce is cooked very low for several hours and then pureed.  Yes, pureed - and that is a great idea for a meat sauce.  It makes the sauce cling to the pasta very nicely.  This is done easily with an immersion blender put right in the pot.  If you don't have one, you can use a regular blender, but a stick blender makes the job so much easier. 

The bolognese sauce is not the most beautiful sauce after it's pureed, but it sure is tasty!



Il Corvo Ultimate Bolognese Sauce

for a printable recipe click here

spice mix:
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces chicken livers, rinsed, finely chopped
1½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
Freshly ground pepper
½ large onion, finely chopped
½ small bunch thyme
¼ cup Mama Lil's Kick Butt Peppers in Oil or Peppadew peppers
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 14-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
½ cup red wine
1¼ lb. ground beef chuck (20% fat)
1½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

pasta and assembly:
12 ounces pappardelle pasta
4 Tablespoons butter
3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ¾ cup) 

the sauce before and after blending


Prepare the spices:  Toast the spices in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes (this releases their flavor).  Let cool, then finely grind in a spice mill (or use a mortar and pestle). 

Make sauce:  Preheat oven to 250°. Heat oil in a medium ovenproof pot over medium-high.  Add livers and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until livers are deeply browned - almost burned, really - 5-8 minutes. 

Add onion, thyme, and peppers, stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring as needed, until onion is brown and soft, 5-8 minutes more. Stir in garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in spice mixture and 1½ teaspoons salt. 

Add tomatoes, then wine, stirring and scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add meat and stir to combine (the mixture will be fairly stiff but will loosen as it cooks). Add milk and mix well - everything should be evenly coated.

Cover pot with a lid and transfer to oven; bake for 6 hours.

Remove pot from oven. The sauce will have firmed up, stir to loosen. Pluck out thyme and, using an immersion blender, puree sauce until smooth.  Add vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta just until barely tender. Do not overcook. Reserve the pasta water (at least a cup and a half).

To serve the sauce, toss pasta and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Ladle in bolognese and toss until pasta is well coated (about 2 cups). Toss and add pasta cooking liquid as needed to create a glossy sauce that coats the noodles.  Toss with Parmesan and serve. 

reprinted from Bon Appetit



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