‘Every year you wait to go back makes it harder to go back at all.’ — Dad, 1990.
I tend to do things the hard way. Always have. And for no particular reason.
Whether it’s choosing to write a 3,000-word piece just hours before a deadline or sitting through a few extra lights to avoid making a simple left turn, I regularly manage to create unnecessary obstacles.
In June 1988, as a 17-year-old, I registered for summer classes at a local community college. My previous four years were marked with occasional successes, but mostly mediocrity. I scored unusually high on the SAT with no studying, but studied feverishly and failed miserably at every mathematics course required of me. (Fine, maybe feverishly is a bit of a stretch.)
I was sad, bitter and listless. I was tired of the smells brought about by yellowed book pages, musty cinder block and lye-based hand soap. And it showed.
My loose plan was to find a job in my beloved radio medium and go to school on the cheap while becoming the next Ernie Pyle or Edward R. Murrow. As I became more entranced by speaking into a microphone, my higher education aspirations faded. I had already won three Associated Press awards for news reporting by the time I was old enough to drink legally. I also garnered more than a half dozen dropped classes on my transcript by then, and an F — in broadcasting 101.
Just as I experienced with the SAT, I have always — for whatever reason — been blessed sufficiently to arrive at my destination. Though I’ll never attain the immortal status of Murrow or have my work canonized à la Pyle, I advanced in my broadcasting career, wrote for a few newspapers and eventually found myself in the PR business. I tell people regularly that Mondays have always been my Fridays, because I love my work that much.
But there has always been something missing … until now.
It was a journey of more than 27 years, with plenty of left turns, jams and miles of doubt, but I finally arrived at my destination once again. This time with a partner.
On December 12, I donned the traditional cap and gown and sat next to my beautiful bride as they called our names in alphabetical order to receive our college diplomas. It was surreal. Memorable. Beautiful.
I –we—did it the hard way. But we did it together. And that makes the quest all the more worth it.
Now, if I can only figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
I spent my final two college semesters studying in the Jimmy Rockford — 12 hours during the summer and 18 hours over the past several weeks. I worked full-time in the process. Why am I telling you this? To convince you that Bolognese and Gruyere-Parmesan Bechimella are truly ideal for busy schedules. Sure, the sauces take some time to prepare. But they keep well and can be used in a myriad of dishes. (Be sure to try the bechimella over vegetables.)
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Pappardelle w/ Ragù alla Bolognese & Gruyere-Parmesan Bechimella
- 12 oz – Pappardelle or other pasta
- Fresh basil and/or basil pesto for garnish
- ¼ cup – Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 – Small yellow onion, peeled and minced
- 2 – Garlic cloves, minced
- 1 – Celery rib, minced
- 1 – Medium carrot, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 oz – Bacon, chopped finely
- 2 – chicken livers, chopped finely
- 3 – Sweet Italian sausages, removed from casings
- 1 lb. – Ground chuck
- ¾ cup – Dry white or red wine
- 1 cup – Hot milk
- 1 cup – Beef or chicken stock
- 1 28-oz can – Tomato purée
- 1 TB – Kosher salt
- 2 tsp – Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 TB – minced onion
- 1 ½ TB — unsalted butter
- 2 TB — all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups — milk
- ¼ cup — grated Gruyère
- ¼ cup — grated Parmesan
- 1 TB — Kosher salt
- 1 tsp — Black pepper
- In a large stock pot or Dutch oven heat oil over medium heat.
- Add onions and garlic. Stir frequently until translucent — about 3-4 minutes.
- Add celery and carrots. Cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add chicken livers and bacon. Continue cooking until livers are just cooked (a little pink is fine).
- Add ground chuck and sweet Italian sausage. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another 5-7 minutes.
- When meat is almost cooked (still a little pink), add wine.
- Stir occasionally until the wine has evaporated, about 4 minutes.
- Reduce heat slightly and add hot milk.
- Cook mixture, stirring occasionally, until the milk has evaporated, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add stock, tomato purée, salt and pepper; Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2½ hours.
- In a saucepan, cook the onion in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring until onion is softened.
- Stir in the flour and cook the roux, stirring, for 3 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk, scalded, in a stream — whisking until the mixture is thick and smooth.
- Simmer the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is thickened to the desired consistency. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl, add the Gruyère, Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste; and stir the mixture until cheeses are melted.
- Boil pasta per the package instructions.
- Top each serving with a large ladle of Bolognese; drizzle with Bechimella; garnish as desired.
**Can be made ahead and also freezes well.