Spaghetti Bolognese for 250
Spaghetti with meat sauce seems simple enough to make, but not so if you are making it for 250 people. Sauce was fairly easy, but my main challenge was the pasta. Since 250 hungry diners stream down the serving lines all at the same time, I could not cook the pasta last minute. So it had to be done ahead. But how do I keep the pasta firm to bite and piping hot? Well, here is what I found out and it works beautifully.
Cook the pasta in boiling water with salt (about 4 tablespoon of kosher salt per gallon). Make sure water is in "rolling boil" when dry pasta is put into the pot. Stir immediately to avoid sticking. Cook until the pasta is firmer than al dente. As Itialian definition goes, "to the tooth", you should feel some resistance when biting into the noodle. 24 pounds of spaghetti noodles was cooked for my church family.
Have a metal colander with a large metal bowl underneath. When pasta is cooked, pour the entire pot of cooking pasta into the colander, lift the colander into another sink and run cold water to cool pasta quickly. You can also use ice water if cooking in smaller amount. Pour back the reserved pasta water back into the pot, add more water and back on the burner.
When the pasta is completely cooled, add 2-3 tablespoon of olive oil to keep pasta from sticking. Keep pasta in colander, cover loosely until ready to reheat. Can be made up to 3 hours in an advance.
When ready to serve, place colander with pasta in a large bowl, boil the reserved pasta water, and pour the boiling water over the pasta to rewarm, gently stir, about 1 minute. Drain the pasta and put another tablespoon of olive oil. Serve immediately with sauce.
This seems like a bit of trouble to have firm pasta, doesn't it? But I vowed that my church family will not be eating overcooked, mushy pasta!
Recipe Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Makes 3 Cups enough for 1 pound of pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons minced carrot
2 tablespoons minced celery
3/4 pound meatloaf mix or 1/4 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoon of dried basil
2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
(28 ounce) can whole tomatoes , packed in juice, processed, with juice reserved
1. Heat olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot, and celery and sautè until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add ground meat, teaspoon salt, garlic, basil, and organo. Crumble meat with edge of wooden spoon to break apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.
2. Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with an occasional bubble or two at the surface, until liquid has evaporated, about 3 hours. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste and serve.
Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days or frozen for several months. Warm over low heat before serving.
To serve 250, I multiplied this recipe by 42, adjusting oil and other liquids. If you are a church cook and will be cooking this recipe in large volume, email me! To reheat this sauce, sauce was placed in deep steam pans in low heat and simmered for 5 hours.