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Dec 20, 2006 06:21 PM

Cutting the fat on Marcella's Bolognese

I recently spent an afternoon making this wonderful sauce from Essentials of Italian Cooking. I followed Marcella's instructions to a T, using chuck, whole milk, oil and butter. Trouble is, a very small serving of the sauce actually made me sick because it was way too rich from the beef fat-olive oil- butter trifecta. Has anyone successfully lightened this recipe a bit and if so which route did you take (leaner beef? less butter?)? Again, it's not my normal M.O. to lighten recipes, but I'd like to enjoy the sauce without my stomach rebelling.

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  1. Coincidence. I just read the recipe for the first time last night, and my first thought was to be sure to trim the chuck of all fat before grinding. Her comments are actually a little vague on the issue, and I interpreted them as "don't use a lean MUSCLE, like rump or round". Chuck is well lubricated.

    So, thanks for your heads-up. I'll trim trim trim.

    I'm trying it for the first time, to see if the influence of milk is a "smoothing" as I hear.

    1. I haven't made this recipe, but it is my MO to lighten just about everything I make. I would recommend that you try cutting each of the fats down by a little bit, but keeping their ratio the same so that you don't change the actual flavor profile too much.

      Also, maybe this is obvious, but in true Italian cooking sauce is suppoed to kiss pasta rather than drowning it, and I think it's easy to pour too much on. If you're using a real Italian sauce recipe (which it sounds like you are) you might want to try dipping your noodles in with tongs and pulling them out with just however much sticks.

      1. This isn't really a dipping sauce-- too thick. I ate a little less than 1/3 c (recipe makes two cups and serves six, so that's about right). I think it was really the chuck, which she recommends-- too much beef fat. And that would be hard to cut down on just a little. Maybe I'll try a leaner beef and cut the butter and oil a smidge per your suggestion.

        1. I think you need all that fat for flavor while you're cooking it. Maybe the trick is to refrigerate it when it's done and scrape off the fat later.

          1 Reply
          1. re: yayadave

            You could definitely do this, because I refrigerated it for my lasagna and there was a definite layer of fat on top- of course, I just mixed it in! ;-) Actually, I accidentally used lean ground beef the other night and the sauce was still very rich and still had quite a bit of fat float to the top... so, I don't know?

          2. If you can make it a day ahead, put it in the ice box, and remove the congelled fat the next day.


            1 Reply
            1. re: stevuchan

              I think you should let it cool to room temp first, then go to the ice box--that way, I think, more of the fat will rise to the top. Also I think it's never a good idea to put hot stuff in the ice box--will warm everything else up and cause the cooling unit to work overtime.