Customarily, most Italian cooks use wine when preparing a Bolognese meat sauce. Not in The Craft Beer Kitchen. I decided, instead, to put a twist on the traditional red sauce recipe by using beer, in this case Mayflower Brewing’s X Imperial Stout, brewed in celebration of their tenth anniversary. It’s full flavors of dark roasted malt, coffee and chocolate, along with a little bit of sweetness, when cooked down with the rest of the recipe’s hearty ingredients, made for a perfect pick-me-up on a snowy March day. Read on to find out just how this recipe’s “X” factor turns a traditional dish into something more exciting.
- Three Large carrots, chopped into small pieces
- Three celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
- One large white onion fully diced
- Four cloves of garlic smashed and diced
- Three tablespoons olive oil
- One pound of ground beef (I used 80/20)
- ¼ pound Italian sausage (optional)
- Two 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
- One 8 oz can tomato paste
- Two cups stout of your choice; room temperature
- Two cups beef broth
- Italian seasoning Blend
- Two Bay leaves.
- One box pasta of your choice
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Parmesan cheese to garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in sturdy pot over low heat and add chopped garlic along with the rest of your prepared vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian spice blend and cover, letting vegetables soften 5-7 minutes.
- Add ground beef, and Italian sausage if you choose to use it, break up with a spatula or wooden spoon and let brown with vegetables, adding more salt, pepper, and Italian spices. Wait for meat to break down and brown, about 5-7 more minutes, with the pot uncovered.
- Add both cans of tomatoes and bay leaves, and then one cup of the stout, turning the stove up to medium high heat. This is going to help develop flavors between the beef, tomatoes, and stout, while letting the alcohol cook out. Once this has come to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer another 10 minutes.
- Next, add one cup beef broth along with the tomato paste. Stir to combine until the tomato paste has dissolved and you’ll notice the sauce start to thicken. Let this all simmer for about a half hour. The name of the game is flavor development, with more liquid being added every so often to let the sauce come together.
- After 30 minutes, add the remaining cup of stout, stirring well into the sauce to combine. You should notice the sauce turning a deep red color at this time. With its dark, roasty notes, the stout adds extra flavor, as well as more body, to the sauce.
- At this point add the remaining beef broth and let it simmer at a very low temperature for the better part of an hour, or until you’re too hungry to wait any longer. About 2 hours into the cooking process, start your pasta water and then add the pasta of your choice and cook it al dente of course. While the pasta boils, add the half cup of heavy cream to the Bolognese sauce and stir well. This gives a nice touch of creaminess to the sauce while letting the dairy cook off.
- This last part is up to you. Most cooks swear by adding the pasta into the sauce, and letting the pasta starches soak in the sauce. The alternative choice is to plate your pasta, then put a heaping ladleful of this flavorful stout Bolognese on top, sprinkle with as much parmesan cheese as you desire, and then dig in. Buon appetito!
Allo Gilinsky, 29, is a home cook, Boston beer lover, and aspiring Cicerone with a knack for pairing craft beer with inspired recipes. A hospitality professional who loves to visit breweries and engage other craft beer drinkers, he recently started his own food and beer social media presence, The Craft Beer Kitchen. Be sure to keep your eyes, and your appetite, on the look out for his latest recipes.