Everyone has their own little tips and tricks when it comes to cooking pasta, and if there’s one pasta dish we’re attempting to cook at home during this semi-lockdown, it is this one: spaghetti bolognese.
Good day? Bad day? Heart ache? No matter the symptom, spaghetti bolognese is often a simple, comforting cure. As times continue to be turbulent and we don’t know for how much longer we’ll be staying home, we decided to ask some of our favourites pasta experts about some of their tips and tricks.
Whilst it is a true labour of love (chopping up vegetables and simmering sauce takes patience), it is a worthy one in the end. Read on for what six of Bangkok’s best chefs from Italian restaurants across town had to say.
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Chef Marco of Il Bolognese follows the original recipe from Bologna
Il Bolognese tops the list as one of the most beloved Italian restaurants in the Sathorn area. Naturally, at Il Bolognese, they prepare spaghetti bolognese using a traditional recipe from Bologna. However, whilst bolognese sauce is used for many dishes, Chef Marco explains that it actually involves quite a long process to make. He advises to pay particular attention to how and when you pair sauce with pasta:
“Use double of the pork, compared to the beef, and add a soffritto of fresh vegetables for freshness, together with aromatic herbs. A glass of milk reduces the tomato acidity, and a touch of unsalted butter increases the creaminess once the pasta is finished cooking in the sauce pan. It is important to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, in order to increase the taste of the pasta itself!”
Il Bolognese is doing currently delivery and takeaway from 10.30am-8pm daily.
Chef Anthony of Tony’s swears by prepping beforehand
If you managed to snag a table at the newly-opened Tony’s on Sukhumvit, you’re one of the lucky ones. A fresh addition to Bangkok’s Italian restaurant scene, Chef Anthony (or Tony) specialises in modern Italian-American dishes at his eponymous haunt. For perfecting spaghetti bolognese, Chef Tony swears by in-house prep (grinding your own meat, making your own tomato sauce), and good timing:
“We use high-quality aged beef, pork, and cured pancetta which we grind in-house. We add a combination of mirepoix, herbs, bay leaves, Chianti red wine, housemate tomato paste, and our own veal stock. This is simmered for three hours.”
Like Chef Marco, Chef Tony highlights that the magic lies in combining sauce and pasta:
“After the pasta is ready, add the bolognese sauce, a little bit of pasta water, a touch of house-made tomato sauce, butter, and confit cherry tomatoes. Emulsify all that with parmesan cheese, and top with more cheese and chilli flakes.”
Order takeaway or delivery from the brand-new Tony’s from 12pm-8pm daily.
Chef Eugenio of La Scala says, “hand-chop your meat”
Remember going for dinners at La Scala? It is still one of our favourite spots for an Italian fine dining experience in Sathorn. Even though they don’t actually serve spaghetti bolognese at La Scala, their new chef Eugenio Canoni was happy to share with us some tips for at-home cooks. Here’s a little of his wisdom:
“Use not only ground meat for your sauce, but hand-chopped meat, too. Be sure to make the tomato sauce first, and then add the meat for cooking. Roast the meat a little at a time, and deglaze with red wine each time. I love adding Italian gremolada (lemon zest, garlic, and parsley) at the end.”
Be sure to check out Chef Eugenio’s new tasting menu at La Scala at The Sukhothai Bangkok. They are currently offering takeaway and delivery services from 11am-8pm daily.
Chef Tai of Sorrento highlights the importance of wine
Another more formal Italian restaurant in Sathorn, Sorrento is beloved with local neighbourhood dwellers for romantic nights and family dinners. Chef Tai helms the kitchen here currently, and has been with Sorrento since 1989. He began his career as a kitchen hand with no experience, and has now risen to become Sorrento’s Executive Head Chef. If this is a journey you’d like to follow, here’s his tip for cooking spaghetti bolognese at home:
“We use a mixture of Australian wagyu beef trimmings (from different cuts of steak and tomahawk), and local pork. Besides the bay leaves, carrots, onions, celery, and stock, we think the key to a good Bolognese is the red wine. A bold and quality red wine.”
Sorrento is temporarily closed for the time being, but they have reassured us they will open again when the time is right.
Chef Francesco of La Dotta says, “give your pasta some time to relax”
La Dotta prides itself in pasta, and this is evident in their menu, spanning a vast variety of fresh pasta and sauces to suit. Chef-partner Francesco Deiana has a few special tips for both the sauce ingredients and the homemade pasta (he suggests making tagliatelle):
“Use high quality ingredients. For the pasta, use Flour 00 and semolina, preferably from an Italian brand. Use chicken or duck eggs, better if free-range, and as fresh as possible. When kneading it, take care to properly ‘stretch’ the dough, so that you get a soft and elastic dough. Fundamental is also the resting time. After it has been kneaded, the dough must be wrapped in plastic film and set to rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours. During this time the dough will ‘relax’ and the result will be a chewy yet firm bite.”
As for the sauce:
“I would say that tomatoes play an important role to get a great result. Tomatoes must appear firm and juicy, and with almost no sourness. One rule that is extremely important: slow cooking! A good ragu cooks in no less than 6-8 hours. Don’t speed up this process or the ragu will miss flavour and delicacy.”
La Dotta is offering a delivery service from 11am-8pm daily. You can also order fresh pasta to cook at home.
Chef Andrea of La Bottega breaks it down for you
If, like us, you’re missing elegant evenings out at La Bottega, opt for Chef Andrea Ortu’s elegant bolognese ragu. The chef that hails from Sardinia keeps things classic, hearty, and indulgent with a traditional recipe, and some very precise instructions. If you’ve never really made a bolognese before and you don’t know where to begin, begin here:
“Melt in a pan chopped Italian pancetta, and then add a few tablespoons of olive oil and herbs. Add the minced beef and mix together, making it slightly brown. Wet with a bit of white wine and stir gently. Add double-concentrated tomato paste and cook. Cover the pan and let the sauce cook slowly for at least 2 hours, adding, when necessary, a bit of broth. At the very end, add a bit of whole milk to soften the acidity of the tomato. Season with salt and pepper. Add half a cup of pasta cooking liquid to your sauce — tablespoonful at a time for a few minutes — and cook together with the pasta. Plate and season with Parmesan cheese.”
La Bottega di Luca is temporarily closed for the time being, but they have reassured us they will open again when the time is right.