Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Meet our newest cook, Doug!

I'm Doug and I live to eat!

Driven by a sense of curiosity, adventure and possibly a few pages from Anthony Bourdain's M.O., the enjoyment of good food is a very key part of my lifestyle. (The other key part, obstacle racing!) I enjoy the process of making food just as much as sharing the discoveries with friends and family over a glass of wine or craft beer. My cooking style typically rotates between Chinese, Japanese, Italian and French cuisine, depending on my mood. As long as there's an interesting technique or ingredient to try out, I'm more than happy to test it out in the kitchen. My favourite kind of meals involve comfort food. Every food culture has a number of dishes that nourish the soul and cure the mind.

Lately, I've taken more science-based approaches to food inspired by the Modernist Cuisine and The Food Lab cookbooks. From using sous vide to break down short ribs to using baking powder to break down skin proteins on a chicken, I'm hoping to merge new discoveries with traditional techniques to make even better tasting creations.

Ragu Bolognese is a dish that I have tried to master even before I took cooking seriously. I fell in love with this dish when I tried it at a restaurant in Hong Kong many years ago. Although that version was more like baked spaghetti with meat sauce and cheese, it was full of umami and the flavours were so comforting. The recipe I use to make bolognese has changed over my cooking career, and has been inspired by a variety of recipes (rather than a specific one). It is still one of my favourites since the beginning.

Ragu Bolognese
by Douglas

Olive oil
Garlic (chopped)
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
Fresh parsley, diced
Dried sage
125g pancetta
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground beef
1 cup red wine
1 can whole tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
1 cup milk/cream
Few dashes fish sauce

Place a medium pot (5 Liters) on the stovetop and set to medium heat. After a few minutes, add a few glugs of olive oil to the pot and throw on the garlic. Stir until fragrant. Toss in the onions and continue to stir until the onions are soft (about 5-10 minutes). Add the diced celery, carrots, 1/2 of the diced parsley and dried sage. Continue to stir for about 10-15 minutes, or until all the vegetables have softened. Remove vegetables from the pot and then add a few glugs olive oil. When the oil has warmed up, add the pancetta and stir until the fat has been rendered. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and then add the ground pork and beef. Break up the ground meat until browned completely. Add the wine to deglaze and scrape off the bits at the bottom. Re-add the pancetta, and vegetables back to the pot as well as the can of whole tomatoes. Next, add the beef stock and 1/2 of the cream. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce slowly simmer for 60 minutes. After the sauce has reduced, add the fish sauce, the remaining parsley & cream and shave some Parmesan into the sauce to finish.

For plating:

Cook your favourite pasta (penne, rigatoni or tagliatelle work best here) until it's just shy of al dente.

 In a separate pan on medium heat, add about 1-2 ladles of the ragu and a ladle of the pasta water. When the ragu is bubbling in the pan, add the pasta and mix until the sauce coats the pasta. Bring the pasta to a plate and then sprinkle some chopped parsley and shaved Parmesan.

 Bon appetit!

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