My Comfort Food

By: Shannon Smith | Category: Restaurants | Issue: November 2020

It’s finally autumn, and with all that’s going on in the world, I think we could all use some comforting. For me, I find it easier to get my mind off my own troubles by focusing on gratitude and ways to encourage others. We’re nearing the holidays, and we could probably use some fresh ideas for comforting family, friends, or the dog, if that’s all you feel like comforting. My favorite way to provide comfort is through food, and when I cook for my loved ones, my own troubles seem to become obsolete. So, I’m going to share one of my favorite comfort foods…. White Bolognese. I’ve been to Bologna, Italy several times, and learned the traditional method of making Bolognese sauce made with tomatoes, beef broth, and red wine. It’s a staple in the Emilia Romana region of Italy, and will always hold a special place in my heart (and tummy). But there’s another Bolognese in town, and it’s white. Well, actually, it’s just lighter in color, but it’s made with pork, chicken stock, white wine, and cream. It’s seasoned with flavors that are comforting, like oranges, sage, and fennel. It’s also very versatile because it’s not only a perfect sauce for pasta; it can be thinned down with more chicken stock and made into a soup that is sure to comfort anyone, no matter what their troubles. I’ve even gotten creative and mixed it up with cream cheese for a dip to go with tortilla chips, because frankly, I have an obsession with chips dipped into anything. It’s also a great sauce to pour over baked potatoes or hash brown potatoes. If you know me, then you won’t be surprised when I suggest pouring it over scrambled eggs because almost everything goes well with scrambled eggs at my house. Are you getting the idea that this sauce is like magic? I assure you that if you try this recipe before the year’s end, you’ll thank me for it, and so will those you are comforting, including the dog. I wish each of you a very happy Thanksgiving this year, and I hope you find many things to hold dear and be thankful for.

You can find more comforting recipes at chefshannon.com.

 

Rigatoni with White Bolognese

Serves 8 - Bolognese is traditionally made with slow-simmered beef and rich tomato sauce, but I’ve broken that tradition with this version that isn’t often found in Italy. Every ingredient in this sauce brings a unique element of flavor that blends perfectly, and is particularly perfect on a chilly day. Tossed with pasta, it makes a perfect one-pot meal, but I’ve also made it into a soup by adding more chicken stock and leaving out the pasta. Any way you serve it, you’re going to love this version.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half

  • 1 white onion, chopped

  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed and chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 pounds ground pork

  • 6 ounces white mushrooms, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/3 cup orange juice

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1/2 cup cream

  • Zest of one orange

  • 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta

Prepare one medium-sized (10”) and one large skillet on the stove by heating to medium-high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to each skillet.  In the smaller skillet, add the onion and fennel.  In the larger skillet add the ground pork, breaking it up and spreading it to cover the bottom of the pan.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper to each.  Let the onion and fennel cook until softened, then add garlic and mushrooms. 

Cook until liquid from the mushrooms has mostly evaporated.  Meanwhile, break up the pork as it cooks, but don’t let it get browned. When the pork is done, add the onion mixture and combine.  Add sage, wine, orange juice, and chicken stock.  Cook, uncovered for 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced and sauce has thickened.  You may need to cook a few minutes longer to reduce it enough.  Add cream, orange zest and Parmesan, and stir.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, bring 8 cups of water to a boil.  Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add pasta and stir. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain off the rest.  Add pasta to the sauce and stir, adding in the reserved pasta water.  Garnish with more Parmesan and sage. 


Shannon Smith Profile Picture

About Author Shannon Smith

I’m Chef Shannon Smith, creator of chefshannon.com, a website where I share my travel adventures, cooking experiences, jewelry creations, life stories, world travels, recipes, cooking classes, and jewelry art. In the past ten years, I’ve traveled to 52 countries, and I hope to add at least that many more over the next ten years. In every country, I am blessed to meet interesting people, learn new cultures, and try all kinds of delicious food. I take cooking classes, join food tours, meet with chefs, and often dine with people in their homes or restaurant kitchens. I’ve lived in Tulsa for over 30 years, and I love teaching people how to cook, especially dishes learned while traveling around the world. Some of my favorite cuisines are Indian, Moroccan, Turkish, Israeli, and Italian, although Indian is the cuisine that makes me the happiest. I’ve collected numerous recipes and methods for making delicious food, and I share those recipes on beadsandbasil.com. I teach classes several times a month when my travels allow. Those classes are advertised on the website but are almost always filled within hours after posting, so I also occasionally teach cooking classes to private groups. My readers and viewers get to learn about my cooking adventures, utensils and appliances. At last count, I have eight grills, two tagines, 22 knives, and ninety-four thousand serving dishes - at least according to my husband. My refrigerators are filled with nuts, cheese, and dried fruits I’ve brought from other countries. And my spice cabinets contain a menagerie of exotic and odiferous seeds, pods, and dried herbs that I use so many ways. Jewelry art is my other favorite activity. I create jewelry from beads and trinkets collected on my travels, including amber from Russia and Estonia, glass from Murano, Italy, paper beads from Rwanda, and old Yemen prayer capsules from Israel. I have an Indian friend who has some of the most beautiful semi-precious stones that he cuts into beautiful shapes. Several times a year, I attend national bead and jewelry shows where I search for unusual items to complete my creations. Many more adventures are planned for the future, and I’m excited to share them with you in my monthly column in Values Magazine, including recipes, cooking tips, interviews with my favorite Tulsa area chefs, cookbook recommendations, travel stories, my favorite local food trucks, and ways we can give our time and talents to our fantastic community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram at Chef Shannon.

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