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Feb 25, 2014 06:31 AM

Splitting milk in tomatoes in bolognese

I'm planning on making a bolognese today.
The recipe calls for adding two cups of milk and a can of plum tomatoes.
It seems whenever I've attempted to make anything using milk and tomatoes the result is disgusting. The milk always splits.
I'm not going to go to the work/expense making this recipe until I know for sure it won't split on me.
What are the 100% fool-proof things not to do and to do to avoid this problem.

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    1. re: Gastronomos

      An 'authentic' bolognese calls for milk. There's recipes all over the internet for making bolognese using milk. Why would I leave it out?

      1. re: Puffin3

        Giada's recipe (the one I use) comes out very well and uses no milk. It's very good. Ina Garten's uses a small amount (I want to say 1/4 cup) of heavy cream, no milk. Batali does use milk, but only one cup. You have to do what works for you and what makes sense, and if the problem is with the milk reaction, simply omit or greatly reduce the dairy. Recipes were made for tweaking. :-)

      2. re: Gastronomos

        +1. I would either omit the milk entirely or incorporate a very small amount of cream at the end. 2 cups of milk seems like a lot.

      3. I have made Hazan's recipe which uses one cup of milk at least thirty times, no problem, whole milk.
        Two cups is too much.

        6 Replies
        1. re: magiesmom

          I really love Hazan's recipe, have made it several times. It makes the house smell so good you nearly faint. It does take a very long time so I think it makes sense to quadruple the recipe and freeze the excess. I use the best quality ground beef chuck. I never had any trouble whatsoever with this recipe.

          1. re: walker

            You're not kidding about quadrupling it. I almost cried when my four and a half hours of stove-tending disappeared in a single (very happy) meal.

            1. re: walker

              I always 4X or 5X it also. And have never had the problem OP describes.

            2. re: magiesmom

              Plus, if I remember correctly, Hazan's recipe has you add the milk before the tomato, and cook it down until almost all the milk is evaporated and/or absorbed, hence no possibility of it splitting or curdling.

              1. re: BobB

                You're absolutely correct. And the wine gets added after the milk and THEN the tomatoes.

                1. re: BobB

                  Absolutely, made a batch yesterday. Worked just as Hazan wrote

              2. The only time I had the milk break is when I mixed it into the same measuring cup as the wine. since then I add the milk first then the wine and I never had it break

                1. I've made Mario Batalli's recipe several times and used whole milk and never had a problem with it splitting.

                  If worried about splitting I'd use heavy cream and reduce the amount used.

                  As banal as the show sometimes is, The Chew show just did a long cook Bolognese sauce (too long a cook for me IMHO) but used milk as well Or you could use cream).


                  For milk, it has to be pretty fresh.

                  I;ve had non-fresh whole milk separate many times when used in coffee.

                  For cooking , it also helps to bring milk to room temp at a minimum.

                  And, as others have said, 2 cups of milk seems like a lot for , I'm guessing , a 26 or 28oz can of tomatoes, or there-abouts.
                  If you're using #10 can tomatoes from teh restuarant supplier, well, then maybe not. LOLZ.

                  Good luck.

                  1. Per Hazan's recipe which I made for the first time last week the milk and tomatoes are added at different times in the cooking process. The meat is braised in the milk until it evaporates by the time the tomatoes come into play the milk is long gone.

                    You can combine tomatoes and milk/cream in a recipe very nicely but I would not just dump them in a pot together that is when it breaks.

                    Marcela Hazan's recipe is very nice.

                    This is a nice article on Ragu from the NYT years ago that has a recipe that also includes milk but adds it at the end at ta very gentle simmer.


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: JTPhilly

                      This. I've made this recipe multiple times, and the milk is absorbed by the meat well before the acidic ingredients go in - never a problem.

                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                        I'm making it at this very second. How long does it take to cook down all that milk? And then the wine? It seems like I've had this thing on the stove forever at a higher heat than the "gentle simmer" described and it's only now starting to evaporate/steam off.

                        1. re: nokitchen

                          I quadruple the recipe, and find that in that case it takes at least an hour for each. Probably less for the standard recipe of course.

                          1. re: DGresh

                            Thanks. As if on cue, the apparent evaporation speeded up significantly right after I posted (I imagine the actual rate didn't speed up much, but seemed faster once the milk got below the level of the meat). It came out to 40 minutes for the milk and 15-20 for the wine.

                            So far the dish seems much more promising than my first try, when I'm certain I underevaporated both the milk and the wine.

                            Also, just for fun and after reading the thread, I subbed paste for some of the puree. I'll add water as necessary over the next few hours.

                            1. re: DGresh

                              Yes, it takes HOURS when you increase the recipe as we smart people do :)