Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"I Like Food, Food Tastes Good - In the Kitchen with Your Favorite Bands" - Pasta Bolognese for Grammy Award Night!

Date I made this recipe:  February 8, 2015 – Grammy night!

I Like Food, Food Tastes Good – In the Kitchen with Your Favorite Bands by Kara Zuaro
Published by:  Hyperion
ISBN:  1-4013-0847-0
Recipe: Pasta Bolognese submitted by John Navin – The Aluminum Group – p. 75-76

So for once I was ahead of the 8-ball and found this recipe a good week before the Grammy's.  And I even made it up in advance, finishing it off Sunday night.  But people, I must confess that I did not watch this year's awards program.  I know, right?

Here's the deal:  Although I like many of the songs that are nominated and I know many of the bands that were featured, both as presenters and performers and winners, I'm at the point where I just feel like I'm watching a circus sideshow. 

First, let's talk (or not) about the outfits.  My gawd in heaven, when Madonna can come in looking like I don't know what wearing a "butt bra" (yup, check out the pictures), then the civilized world as we know it has come to an end.  For whatever reason, the Grammy's bring out the worst fashions in people and I am not limiting my meow moments to just the women because I'm talking to you, Joe Jonas!  WHITE shoes?  Are we kidding??

And then, let me just say it, there was Kanye West, who apparently repeated his "Let me just interrupt your acceptance speech, Taylor Swift," this time going after Beck who beat out Beyonce for Album of the Year.  What IS it with Kanye and Beyonce anyway?  News reports differ – he was kidding/not kidding - but regardless, you don't see Oscar contenders doing that, now do you?  No, you do not!  And speaking of which, to compare and contrast, Sunday night was also the night for the BAFTA Awards (British version of the Oscars) and let me tell you, when a real Prince (William) shows up, albeit via video broadcast, you do not wear a dress resembling a crocheted toilet paper cover, circa 1950, do you Rhianna!  (Goggle crotched toilet paper cover Barbie.)

And seeing as how I can read and reread and watch and re-watch and judge and judge some more all the celebrity photos on the internet the next day, why tune in for real?  Exactly.

Secondary reason for not watching?  Because the movie,  Marvel (comics) The Avengers, was on at the same time.  I am not a Marvel comic gal (Superman was a DC Comic) but I have seen all the Iron Man movies (Marvel) and am quite enamored with a new ABC show, Marvel's Agent Carter which can be seen on  Tuesday nights at 9, 8 Central Time.  I LOVE Peggy Carter.  I especially love seeing her kick the crap out of the evil men she encounters because she is just a super, super agent!  But.  I do feel like I'm missing something by not knowing my Marvel characters and back stories so when the opportunity came up to tune in to The Avengers, it was a no-brainer choice.

Okay, then, so now that we've established why I played hokey, let's talk about this book.  I am quite chuffed to say that I've heard of/listened to several of the bands listed here which is quite the accomplishment because these groups are not exactly getting a ton of playing time on pop radio stations.  But where they are being played is on Minnesota Public Radio's alternative station, the one, the only, 89.3 The CurrentThe Current just celebrated 10 years on the air.  The Current also experienced a little kerfuffle a couple weeks ago when they laid off one of my (and others) favorite DJ's and I'm still trying to get over it but in the meantime, this is the station I listen to all day, every day.

The Current format is pretty fun—a few top 40 hits (although not many), a lot of alternative, garage and indie bands, and then there are moments where the DJ's just play whatever the hell they want and so one minute you can hear Frank Sinatra, the next, Curt Cobain, and one fine afternoon, The Osmond Brothers.  When the Osmonds came on, I was so psyched to hear a band from my middle-youth years that I almost drove my car off the road.  Now THAT is fine radio programming, people!

As to the cookbook, here's a sample of bands you might know along with their recipes:

  • Calexico (Tofu Scramble – p. 6)
  • Death Cab for Cutie (Veggie Sausage and Peanut Butter Sandwich – p. 64)
  • Franz Ferdinand (Lemon Ginger Flapjacks – p. 209)
  • My Morning Jacket (The "You Can Care if You Wanna" Sandwich – p. 71)
  • Pelican (Oatmeal Cake – p. 224)
  • The Decemberists (Oh, how I love this group) (Pork Loin with Poblano Chilies – p. 77)
  • The Hold Steady (Midwestern-Style Bratwurst – p. 81)
  • The Violent Femmes (Wild Boar Ragu – p. 95)
  • They Might Be Giants (Countrypolitan (drink) – p. 193)

And so on and so on.  If nothing else, I have the makings for my next playlist!  But alas, I could not possibly make all 105 recipes from this book or I'd be here all day and then some.  So after careful perusal, and the sad elimination of Nick Query's (from The Decemberists) recipe because it involved peppers (see my last blog for a word about hot peppers), the votes were in and the Grammy Award Recipe of the Night went to...Pasta Bolognese from John Navin of The Aluminum Group.  Congratulations! (Winners, let's get some photos. Losers, there are no losers, only those who did not win.  And see also Kayne.  But I digress...)

All right then:  The Aluminum Group...discuss!  Per my friend, and yours, Wikipeida, The Aluminum Group is an "American pop group from Chicago, Illinois, centered on brothers John and Frank Navin."  Their sound is sort of reminiscent of 80's songs in that it's got that lounge sound to it yet it's not.  This cookbook probably said it best though, in that they "make shimmering synth-pop."  So there you go – rather hard to describe but fun to listen to.   Sadly, The Current does not list them in their playlists.  This must be rectified.

Apparently, these brothers really enjoy cooking and it shows in this classic Bolognese sauce that I selected for the Grammy Awards repast.  This was yummy! 

Unlike a regular  tomato-based pasta sauce, Bolognese differs in several regards:  it is meat-heavy, often involving several cuts of meat; it can, as this recipe did, involve cream and butter, and spices are non-existent.  You want basil or oregano, go find yourself another sauce. 

Another thing that is important to know about Bolognese sauce is that not only is it meat-heavy, it is heavy, period and so don't plan to serve this up with a "petite" pasta like Angel hair or you will be crying and likely wiping sauce stains off your pants. A light pasta will "crumble" under the weight of this sauce.  The brothers suggested spaghetti but for whatever reason, I am just not a huge spaghetti fan as I find it to be rather dull compared to other pastas and so I opted for rigatoni, those very large tubes that pair well with a heavy sauce. 

Now, in order to do justice to a Bolognese sauce, you must plan to simmer this for a few hours – in this case, three.  And I tell you what, I'm waiting for the day when an invention is created where I can put my sauce on the stove, leave my house to run errands, and still come home to find the structure still standing (i.e. not burned down!).  Until that happens, I carved out three hours and did other things around the house.

In closing ("I'd like to thank Grammy voters for this award..."), here's what The Aluminum Group's John Navin had to say about this recipe:

"okay, so this is one of the finest and most classic pasta sauces in the world!!!  you go buy a couple of bottles of a good red Tuscan wine, a baguette of crusty Italian bread, whip up this sauce – and man, man-oh-man, you can't lose, in fact, you'll instantly charm the pants (or skirt) off the one you're with, seriously!"

We are charmed, for sure.

Pasta Bolognese – Serves 4
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of finely minced onion
2 tablespoons of finely minced celery
2 tablespoons of finely minced carrots
¾ pound ground veal
1 cup of organic whole milk
1 cup of dry white wine
One (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
1 pound spaghetti
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt

Heat the butter in a sauce pan and add the onion, celery, and carrots, and
cook for approximately 6 minutes. Add the ground veal and sauté for another 3 minutes.  Add milk and bring to a simmer, continuing until the milk evaporates and only the clear fat remains.  Add white wine and repeat simmering process, until the wine has evaporated.  Ann's Note:  The milk evaporated pretty quickly but I can't recall how long it took.  Ten minutes?  The wine was harder to judge because it is clear to begin with and so who knows how long to simmer?  Maybe 10-15?

Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer at very, very low heat, covered for 3 hours.

When cooking your pasta, reserve about half a cup of the pasta water to add back when you're mixing the Bolognese sauce with the pasta – a little water helps to distribute the sauce evenly.  Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan and kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Do not pepper the sauce while cooking, 3 hours of simmering turns pepper bitter!

Buon appetito!  Con amor.  Il Aluminum Gruppo!  Ciao!  Baci!  (Good eating – or eat well – with love, The Aluminum Group.  Bye!  Kisses!

No comments: