I have many fond memories of my mother’s sister, Geri, and of course, many of them revolve around food. Even when I am remembering how much fun it was to ride with her in her Thunderbird convertible, it is the blueberry pie a la mode at Schrafts or the diner that sticks out in my mind. My mom didn’t drive, so being the thoughtful Godmother that she was, Aunt Geri would pick me up, take me shopping at Best & Co for some pretty clothes, and then we would end the excursion eating chicken salad sandwiches and blueberry pie a la mode. This special ritual began when I was about five years old and continued until I was old enough to shop with my girlfriends, and had decided that perhaps I should be ordering a salad instead. I also think about all the Friday nights that she would come to our house with her two sons for homemade pizza and calzones (I will be posting those recipes in the near future). Trips to the beach meant baskets full of sandwiches of peppers and eggs and eggplant parmigiano on warm, crusty Italian rolls. There were always lots of homemade goodies for desert. These two sisters loved to cook, and their children loved to eat. All this made for very happy childhood memories. It has been many decades now that have passed, but I look back fondly on all the fun and food we shared.
This recipe for Fettuccine Bolognese holds a special place in my heart. From the first time Aunt Geri made it, I loved it so. I would call her from time to time for the recipe and she would tell me what to do over the phone. I’m not sure why I never wrote it down, but I guess that was because I knew I could always call her when I wanted to make it again. But then she became very sick, and I didn’t call for the recipe anymore, not wanting to bother her with something so trivial. One of the last times I visited her, we were sitting in her kitchen ( which is as vivid in my mind today as it was more than 30 years ago), and of course, we were still talking about food. I mentioned her Bolognese sauce and she insisted that I write it down. I knew what she meant by this. I found an index card and green pen in the kitchen drawer, and she dictated this recipe to me. I see her beautiful face and smile each time I hold this index card in my hand. I recall our family gatherings and the joy these two sisters brought to their families.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for Fettuccine Bolognese a la Aunt Geri. I love how she told me to use “College Inn Chicken Broth.” And I do. There weren’t as many brands then as there are now. I would bet that the only chicken broth you could buy 30 plus years ago was College Inn. Anyway, I make this EXACTLY as she told me and always will, but feel free to use any chicken broth you wish. I also have to laugh at my phonetic spelling of Bolognese!
1 1/2 pound chopped meat, a combination of veal, pork and beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 – 2 large celery stalks, chopped
3 TBSP. olive oil
5 TBSP butter, plus 3 TBSP for dressing the pasta
1 28 ounce can of Italian Plum Tomatoes, always making sure it says “Product of Italy”
1/4 tsp. garlic salt or powder
4 (10 ounce)cans College Inn chicken broth or broth of choice
2/3 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds fresh fettuccine noodles
1. In large skillet, heat the olive oil and the 5 TBSP of butter. Add the onion, carrot and celery and saute for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft, stirring constantly.
2. Add the meat and brown. Mix well.
3. Add the garlic salt (or powder ) salt and pepper.
4. Add the Broth and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
5. Put the tomatoes in a blender ( a trick I learned from her) and pulse it for a minute or two to puree, but don’t overdo it. Add this to the skillet and bring again to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, adding more broth if necessary, and stirring often.
6. Add 2/3 cup of white wine and heat through for about 5 to 10 minutes.
7. Cook the fettuccine in a large pot of salted water.
8. When pasta is drained, add it to a the 3 TBSP. of butter in a large pasta bowl. Mix to coat, and add some (but not all) the sauce. Mix well.
9. This is best if plated after step #8, and then add more sauce on top of each serving. Serve with freshly grated cheese.
10. Finish your meal with a delicious piece of blueberry pie a la mode!