Made this last night exactly as written (except added a splash extra wine), and the results were delicious! The mushrooms and miso gave it a deep umami backbone while the wine and tomatoes added acidity, and while you couldn't really pick out the eggplant per se, the whole dish was slightly reminiscent of ratatouille, if ratatouille went to the gym and got built. Best of all, this bolognese has a ton of flavor while not having the gut-bomb effect than an actual fatty, meat-heavy dish like this would have. Made it with big fat rigatoni, which was great at capturing all the chunkiness.
And now for the constructive criticism: I started everything at 5:30pm (put eggplant in oven, started chopping everything), and I wasn't finished with the entire thing - pasta included - until a little before 10pm. My knife skills aren't lightning-fast, but they're pretty decent, and chopping took up a really huge amount of time (especially the fiddly shiitake caps - slicing them in strips was fine, but getting all the strips in a cap to turn 90 degrees and line up neatly in order to dice was pretty annoying).
Another time-intensive part was the wine reducing, which I found took way more than 5 minutes to get to "nearly dry" (to be fair, I added a couple of tablespoons too much, but it still took a very long time). I was using my favorite 12-inch, straight-sided skillet, so I don't think surface area was the issue. I also started heating the pasta water after the sauce had already been simmering for an hour, so I probably lost a good 30 minutes there between waiting for the water to boil and cooking the dry pasta.
In sum: Budget a lot more time for chopping (make this a Saturday or Sunday project) and start heating your pasta water after the sauce has been simmering for 30 minutes. That way, your water will be boiling away 5 to 10 minutes before the sauce is ready - a perfect amount of time to get to that almost-al-dente stage.
Vegan cookbook, Kenji? Pleeeeease? I would buy eight zillion copies.
Love this post. Also, don't forget your friendly Dan Savage's advice with respect to food and sex on sexy occasions (language NSFW): http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/02/14/the-best-valentines-day-card-ever
Truer words never spoken: "Remember, kids: a romantic meal doesn't put you in the mood for a good [REDACTED] but a good [REDACTED] builds up an appetite for a romantic meal.
Looks delicious! Planning on making this weekend.
Do you need to prick the eggplant before roasting lest it explode?
So I'm going to be having a vegan dinner party soon, and inspired by this post I whipped up an amazing non-dairy version of this ice cream that is as good as any dairy ice cream I have ever made, and unbelievably easy.
2 cans full-fat coconut milk (chilled in fridge for several hours) + 1 1/4 C sugar + 2 tsp vanilla, blend it all up until it is smooth. Freeze that in your ice cream maker, and mix in your chopped (vegan) dark chocolate, toasted chopped almonds, and a few handfuls of toasted sweetened coconut flakes if you don't mind the texture. It is so creamy and rich, you would never guess it was dairy-free, and I didn't even have to turn on my stove (unless you count toasting the nuts).
I'm sure this dairy ice cream base is delicious, but the mix-ins were an amazing inspiration for a vegan dessert (which I was really struggling with in my menu plan).
It is very cold here in Chicago. We are fattening up for hibernation.
"A vegetal sweatiness?" Otherwise sounds great :)
Thanks everyone! Left the window open overnight, no smells. Hopefully all is well.
Seriously, how on earth do you all look so trim and fit? I suspect I would weigh 500 pounds after a month at SE. The self-restraint must be tremendous. Well done all!
@RikiTiki2, I don't think the idea is to banish mai tais - they are delicious! It's to banish fake "mai tais" that aren't really mai tais but just a bunch of rum and fruit juice.
Kenji and @i8, sincerely sorry for pulling out the "douche" card and bringing down the level of dialogue. That didn't need to be a part of my response, and I wish I could delete the last sentence.
But @i8, you have to understand that I was trying to call you out for being unnecessarily disrespectful to my heritage. I'm really sorry you had such a bad experience in Texas, and despite growing up there I don't have all positive things to say about it, either, so there's that. But it's my home state, it's where my family and a lot of my friends are from, and I have a lot of love and pride associated with both the state as a whole and its food culture.
The whole point of my original comment is that it's important to remember that experiences are subjective - your subjective experience is not the same thing as objective truth. You had a bad experience in Texas and you don't like its food; that doesn't mean that you can say definitively that "Tex-Mex is more of a warning for intelligent people [and]...sucks big hairy sweaty round things in a bag."
Anyway, I have already gone way too far down the someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet rabbit hole, so I'm going to leave it there.
@lapsangsouchong wins comment of the month.
Yay! I loooove Ninfa's.
@Damaenon: This "trend" has been in full swing in South Texas for half a century. I grew up with them. As for breakfast burritos, they are a different species of food and way younger than breakfast tacos, which are only a "trend" insofar as cheffy places in L.A. have started making them.
@i8thecat: You're right: Tex-Mex food is not Mexican food but rather its own cuisine, and I'm pretty sure no self-respecting Texan has ever claimed otherwise. Go to Ninfa's on Navigation in Houston, order the fajitas (or really, anything on the menu - just make sure you get the refried beans), and then tell me how much Texas sucks.
And then, if you still think all Tex-Mex sucks (which would mean you lack all joy in life), remember that tastes are subjective. I think Cincinnati-style chili is objectively disgusting, but I'm sure someone who was raised on it thinks it tastes like home and is therefore delicious. Don't be a smug douche and crap all over an entire food culture simply because you don't get it.
Recipe looks tasty, as always. Now, on to a related matter: San Antonian here. Sadly, breakfast tacos may be one of those things you need to have grown up with to truly appreciate. I'm afraid the overcooked egg phenomenon you identify may be a feature, not a bug. It's also worth noting that a lot of the places that are famous for their breakfast tacos in TX are mystifyingly overrated (e.g. San Antonio's Taco Taco - no clue why that place gets as much press as it does). My theory is that breakfast tacos are best prepared not by any restaurant at all but by a Mexican grandma like mine, who used to make us ridiculously amazing homemade potato-and-egg tacos for breakfast.
Fritesandgeeks: I bet some pickled red onion would do the trick - crunchy, oniony, and acidic to cut through some of the fattiness. And colorful to boot!
Came here off this recommendation this evening - absolutely delicious! Not light by any means, so it helps to come very hungry and not expect to eat everything. Get the chicken soup, though - it's essence of Jewish grandmother.
+1 on Allagash White.
What is the Serious Eats commentariat's view on cooking with tomatoes in a cast-iron skillet? I never do, but I wonder if that's unnecessarily cautious.
All of the jokes I can think to make are too inappropriate for Serious Eats :) This made my day.
I can vouch for Vermilion! I was lucky enough to get a free meal there - it's a shockingly delicious fusion of Indian and Latin cuisine. Go there!!
I am from San Antonio! So excited to see my hometown get some press - but the link to the slideshow doesn't appear to work.
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