Sailing as an Inspiration for Cooking ‘Bolognese’
When talking about nutrition onboard I stated many times that pasta is one of the most popular foods on sailing trips. This time I would like to share with you some ideas on how to gain sympathies of your crew with spaghetti or fusilli.
Some chefs would say that Bolognese sauce or ragout (minced meat stew) is not an extravagant meal and is rather simple to make. And they are right, that’s all we need for a nice and decent meal onboard.
Warm some olive oil in a dish and stew some onion cut into small pieces. Add some celery root and carrot when onions get transparent. There is a trick on how to speed up this initial process which helps when your companions are very hungry and you want to spend less time in the kitchen. Add some sparkling water in the stewing vegetables and keep cooking. After a while add a glass of red or white wine and lower the flame intensity.
For a decent Bolognese you will need minced beef meat, but you can use any other minced meet as well. Stir it thoroughly, add salt and pepper and cook it over a low fire. When the meat gets brownish it is time to add canned peeled tomatoes. Let it cook for a while. That would be the basics of Bolognese.
Now I would like to share with you some tricks gained through the experience of cooking onboard a charter yacht. Your sauce will taste more authentically if you add some Mediterranean herbs into it. First of all, there is bay leaf which can be fresh or dried, and is very common in the Mediterranean. Secondly, if you cut some rosemary leaves into tiny pieces your Bolognese will ‘start talking’.
Furthermore, my grandma taught me to add some sugar whenever I cook with tomatoes. Sugar won’t give a sweet flavor to your meal, it will only react with acids from tomatoes, and the consumers of your meal won’t feel any digestive difficulties.
The imagination and a bit of experimentation brought me to some ideas on how to enrich Bolognese in case I realize that my crew often prepares Bolognese. Your Bolognese will have a totally different taste if you cook it with tiny sliced mushrooms, preferably champignon mushrooms.
On the other hand, if you are willing to bring Bolognese closer to Mexico, add some chili, sweet corn beans and peanuts, serve it with spaghetti or fusilli, and then you can call it ‘mexicanese’.
The experiment got to its peak when I added an avocado cut into small cubes and small pieces of very dark chocolate. The avocado can be substituted by a mango. I called it ‘exoticese’ and won smiles of my crew.
However, in case your crew does not like meat that much, you can substitute minced meat with canned tuna fish scraps. In that case the basic procedure is the same, but the cooking period is shorter. You may also reduce the amount of peeled tomatoes or completely substitute it with cream. Pickled capers and/or dill would be an excellent supplement along with some garlic.
I invite you to try out some of these ideas at home, especially if you are not confident in your cooking abilities. In addition, your comments and ideas about pasta Bolognese are very welcomed and highly appreciated.
I wish you a calm sea, a fine wind and a strong mast!