Blog of an aspiring foodie

Copyright law and recipes – and a request

Posted by beer_chris on 21-February-2008

I have always hesitated to post recipes from published sources on my blog, preferring to allude to them with enough detail such that any reader or Googler could find them on his own with a minimum of effort. However, I've never really known for sure if this was really fulfilling the spirit of copyright protection of something like a recipe, or if I am just mental.

Turns out it's the latter.

Sites like Recipezaar are full of recipes culled from other sources, but I never really understood how that worked. Now I guess I know.

So, by special request, here are the recipes for the Bolognese sauce and polenta lasagne from Marcella Hazan's 'Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking'

Obviously I have paraphrased rather than copied Marcella's prose, below. I have also modified the ingredients list to indicate exactly what I did (i.e. she called for 1/2 cup of onion, chopped. I used a half of an onion, and I like my mirepoix chopped pretty fine, so I chopped it pretty fine and indicated that here for the onion, the carrot and the celery) If something isn't clear let me know, or just buy her book 😉

Bolognese Meat Sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter plus 1 for tossing the pasta
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped fine
3 stalks celery, washed and chopped fine
2 medium carrots, washed, peeled and chopped fine
3/4 lb ground beef (I used the Kroger tube 'o beef)
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine (I used $8/bottle Ecco Domani pinot grigio)
1 22 oz can canned tomatoes with juice (I used my fave – the .79 For Maximum Value brand, stem ends trimmed, but any brand packed only in juice and not puree will do)

  • Put oil butter and onion in a medium dutch oven and turn heat to medium, cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and begins to yield it's liquid. Add the remainder of the mirepoix and cook for a few more minutes until fragrant and well coated.
  • Add the ground beef, a pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat and cook until the raw color is gone.
  • Add milk and lower heat to let it simmer gently. Stir frequently until the milk has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating of nutmeg (about 1/8 of a tsp)
  • Add the wine, allow to simmer until evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat as low as possible – maintain barely a warm bubbling, and cook this way (uncovered) for at least 3 hours, preferably 4-5. When the fat separates from the meat and there is not enough liquid to stir it back in, add 1/2 cup of water and continue the cooking. I added about 2 cups of water over 6 hours. All the water must be evaporated off before the sauce is complete.

Makes ~2 cups. Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Preferable to let it rest at least 1 day, I allowed 3.

Baked Polenta w/Bolognese Meat Sauce

  • Make instant polenta according to package directions. Form into a flat square about the size of a 9x5x2 baking pan. Once cool enough to handle cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Allow to cool completely.
  • Warm the bolognese sauce and stir the lovely congealed fat back into the meat.
  • Prepare a thin bechamel, about the consistency of sour cream. Put to the side and keep warm.
  • Slice the polenta into noodle-ish slices – about 1/2″ thick. Keep them as even as possible but don't worry too much about it.
  • Smear a lasagna dish with butter. Cover with layer of polenta slices. Combine the bechamel and meat sauce, and put a layer of this mixture over the polenta, and then add a sprinkling of parmesan (use really good nutty-flavored expensive aged parmesan – not romano or asiago and certainly not the pre grated stuff in the green can!!!)
  • Cover with another layer of polenta, repeating until you have just enough meat/bechamel mixture for a light topping over the last of the polenta. Sprinkle with cheese and dot sparingly with butter.
  • Bake on the uppermost rack of the 450 oven for about 10-15 minutes. Allow it to rest a bit before serving, as it is hot as lava.
  • Enjoy an esoteric experience with a nice glass of Chianti, and go to the bookstore and BUY MARCELLA HAZAN'S BOOK ALREADY!!!

Serves 5-6.


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