Bologna is a paradise for the pasta lover. With the exception of tagliatelle, most pasta is stuffed. Tortellini stuffed with mortadella is a specialty of the area and is often served in a broth. Ravioli is often stuffed with ricotta and seasoned with butter and sage. When it comes to meat and game, the variety seems almost endless – with pheasant, duck, wild boar, hare, beef and pork all finding their way into recipes.
Erbazzone is a traditional and popular savory pie of the province. The recipe has humble origins and is a product of the cucina povera. It was traditionally made from ingredients found in the family vegetable garden.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water
1 lb 10 oz Swiss chard
1 lb 2 oz spinach
1 bunch spring onions, with stems, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 oz Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper
In a large bowl, add the flour and salt; stir until combined. Add 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and the water. Mix the ingredients together using a stand mixer, until the mixture comes together in a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil and generously salt the water. Add the Swiss chard stems and cook for a 3-4 minutes, then add the leaves and continue cooking for another two minutes until soft. Scoop the Swiss chard out and drain well, reserving the cooking water. Add the spinach to the water and cook until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Drain thoroughly and press out the extra water.
In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, then add the garlic and cook over a medium flame for about 1 minute. Add the spring onions and cook for 5-6 minutes, until soft. Add the spinach and chard; cook until the water from the vegetables has evaporated. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 20” rectangular pan with parchment paper. Divide the dough in two. Generously flour a large workspace and roll the sheets out thinly so they are about the size of the pan. Transfer the dough onto the pan.
When the vegetables have cooled, add the following ingredients to the bowl: Parmigiano Reggiano, parsley, salt, pepper and mix well. Put the filling on top of the dough and spread it out evenly, making sure to leave a bit of an edge. Roll the second layer of dough on top and crimp the edges together. Now prick the top layer all over with a fork; make sure to go all the way down, otherwise, the dough will puff up when baked. Use a pastry brush, distribute a layer of extra virgin olive oil on top.
Bake for 30 minutes until the top is lightly golden. Let the erbazzone cool, then cut it into squares. Serve either warm or cold.
Lucrezia Borgia was the inspiration for tagliatelle. Legend has it that Maestro Zeferino was inspired to create the pasta by her blonde braids and prepared it for her wedding day. There are many variations of the ragu. The most important ingredient is minced beef and a tomato-based sauce that is cooked for hours. Ragù goes well with many types of pasta, but in Bologna, it is never with spaghetti!
½ cup olive oil
½ cup butter
1 cup onions, chopped small
½ cup celery, chopped small
1/4 cup carrots, chopped small
1/4 pound pancetta, ground
1 pound veal
½ pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 cups whole milk
1 cup white wine
½ cup tomato paste
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1 lb tagliatelle pasta
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over a medium flame. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook until very soft and beginning to caramelize. Mix together all of the meat and brown in the pan. When the meat begins to change color and releases its juices, add the milk. Cook until the milk has been absorbed – 12-15 minutes. Add the white wine and tomato paste, stirring well to incorporate. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook uncovered for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
To cook the pasta, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt to the water and return to a boil. Cook the tagliatelle according to the directions. Drain, reserving a ladle of pasta water. Add the tagliatelle to the Bolognese sauce. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if necessary. Toss for 1 minute. Immediately serve in warm pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Coteletta alla Bolognese
This traditional secondi adds Bolognese flair to the veal cutlet.
2 lb veal loin
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ cup 00 flour
2 eggs, beaten
4 tbsp butter
8 oz prosciutto
4 oz Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
2 cups meat broth
½ cup tomato puree
Prepare the meat broth. Tenderize the veal slices to reduce the thickness. Use a sheet of parchment paper spread over the meat to avoid breaking the fibers. Prepare three wide bowls, one for the flour; another the eggs and in the third, the breadcrumbs. First flour both sides of each cutlet, then coat with the egg and finally coat with the breadcrumbs.
In a large non-stick sauté pan, melt a tablespoon of butter and cook the cutlets two at a time over a medium flame. Add a tablespoon of butter for each two cutlets, wiping out the pan after two batches have been cooked. Brown each side and then remove the cutlets from the pan. Once all have been browned, place two or three cutlets back into the pan; top each with a slice of prosciutto and sprinkle with Parmigiano. Add a ladle of meat broth and cover the pan, cooking over a medium flame for 5-6 minutes. Repeat for all of the cutlets. When you have finished cooking the veal, remove from the pan and add the tomato puree to the broth that remains. Stir together and cook over a high flame until thickened. Serve the cutlets with the sauce.