Spaghetti Bolognese a little bit bitter

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by chrisbristol, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

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    Hi

    I made a Spaghetti Bolognese the other day.  It was very nice rich and had a lot of flavour but something made it a little bit bitter.  I'll tell you how I cooked it and maybe someone can tell me what might have caused it.

    I fried some onions, celery and carrots of in a pan. In a separate pan I fried of some minced beef then when it was cooked I drained it of.  I then added some garlic to the veg pan cooked that of for a few minutes then added some red wine tomato purée then the meat. I then added a couple of stock cubes to it fried that of to get the flavour in then added some more wine. I then added some tinned tomatoes, tomato purée then  bay leaf.  I then let it cook for  a bit then added some dried basil and oregano.  I then added a bit more tomato purée and some ketchup and a bit more wine and another stock cube.

    I then cooked it for about an hour I think.

    So I'm thinking that possibly it was that I put to many stock cubes in it or possibly to much wine and that made it bitter.
     
  2. lagom

    lagom

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    Could be the wine or cubes but maybe you scortched the garlic?
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  3. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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     A little sugar should help balance things out.  Not an uncommon ingredient for just that purpose. 
     
  4. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    I think it was a combination of the frying and the stock cubes. The carmilization and the richness of the stock cubes will really punch up the flavor. Funny, I just made some myself last night something I have not done in a very long time. It came out rather well like yours and what I did was brown some salt pork (small amount) then brown some Italian sausage. I added two onions a hefty amount of garlic and sauteed it with the meat. Next I added some fennel seeds, dried basil and oregano. After this i added some tomato paste and cooked it for a while to caramelize the paste. Next went a half bottle of red wine which I cooked down. After it was nice an reduced I added in the tomatoes (sauce, whole peeled, stewed) and cooked it slowly for about 2 1/2 hours. It came out very nice and we really enjoyed it. 
     
  5. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    First eliminate catsup(to much sugar and will burn quick and get bitter. Next assuming you did not caramelize any  veges. An was not overcooked it should not be bitter. To get the bitterniss or acid taste out add a pinch of baking soda(some people use sugar I don't) It kills acidity like it does in your stomach.
     
  6. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

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    I did actually add a bit of sugar forgot to mention that.  It might have been that I added a stock cube later on a that it didn't cook out properly.  I suppose the best thing to do is tweak it and find out. 
     
  7. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    One of the few dishes I can make without a recipe....

    Canned tomatos are a staple in my pantry but will cause that bitter (acidic?) aftertaste.

    A bit of cream almost always calms it down.

    mimi
     
  8. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    This is one trick I have never thought of.

    Will def try BS next time.

    Thanks Chef.

    m.
     
  9. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Hey Mimi, good point. Actually Cooks Illustrated recommends adding some whole milk to the sauce after you brown the meat. The milk tames the acidity and has sugar as well so you don't have to add any. And I did not use a recipe either. :)
     
  10. someday

    someday

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    My guess is you scorched it. You may have simmered it too long or too hard, cooked down the liquid and your meat/veg sat on the bottom of the pot and burned. Then you stirred and maybe scraped the bottom of the pot and mixed it all in. 

    It may be possible that you added too much wine, cooked it down too much, and are left with a bitter taste. This would be unlikely unless you REALLY hammered the sauce and took it down a lot. 

    A lot of people seem to be confusing the bitter taste with sour taste. Things that are acidic are sour--acidic foods don't cause bitterness. Adding some acid or sugar may help to mask the bitterness, but if it is really prevalent there isn't too much you can do. 

    Did you scorch your pan? Scorched has a very distinct bitter taste but if you aren't familiar with it, it could be hard to identify. 
     
  11. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Flip Flop  Do not add to much as color of sauce will darken
     
  12. kaikaikooking

    kaikaikooking

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    did you add a little sugar.
     
  13. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

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    I think it was unlikely that it was scorched, possible but  unlikely.  I think the most likely thing is that it was the stock cube that was added a bit later on and possibly the wine. Yes I did add some sugar.
     
  14. grande

    grande

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    Sounds like a lot of wine. Was it "unpleasant, sharp, disgreeable, pungent"(bitter) or was it too acidic and sour?
     
  15. chrisbristol

    chrisbristol

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    I can't quite remember.  It didn't over power it to much but it was noticeable.
     
  16. someday

    someday

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    Is it bitter or sour? A lot of people often confuse the two. Bitter things are like endive, cofee, tea, etc. Sour are things like wine, lemons, vinegar. 

    They are different tastes. I don't see how a stock cube would make it bitter, even if you reduced the sauce significantly. Some stocks, especially those made with roasted bones, can turn bitter if reduced too far, but I doubt your sauce came down that much. 

    Burning something, whether meat, sugar, vegetables, often make them bitter. Thats why I was asking if you scorched the bottom of the pot. 
     
  17. yeller

    yeller

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    Exactly, I usually add 1 T of sugar to ground tomatoes to make sauce.
     
  18. greenranger

    greenranger

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    Ditch the ketchup (you should know better, anyone should know better)...  canned tomatos are probably ok  so long as you pick some that don't have tomato seeds in them... I'm not an avid canned tomato user, I'd rather just buy some sauce because I really dislike the flavor they absorb from the tin (I can taste it, don't call me crazy) So I don't know the varying choices but I know you can get stewed, diced, etc... Just something without seeds. I made fresh pasta sauce last night also... LOL which I never do.  But Tomato Concasse from a whole tomato is the way to go removing the skin, and then the seeds because seeds are bitter (I doubt they would be the reason behind anyone's sauce being bitter just in general though but they are unpleasant in their own nature when they are in a tomato sauce and like all seeds should never be in any thing you serve)  

    You say you added red wine.... but that is a very generic statement..Poor wine choice could easily be behind this... and if I were to add wine to a tomato sauce it would be a very small amount. probably just while sauteing the meat... I would also have ditched the bay leaf... They are also bitter, spread out amongst a large pot of soup or stock they add a nice distinct flavor, but this is usually in a 2+ gallon recipe it will only call for (1) bay leaf.. but in a small pan of sauce its probably too much and the acidity of the tomato's probably released the full brunt of its flavor.

    No shame in just googling a recipe once in a while... Obviously you have to make some changes to make it your own, but the classics are the classics and they all have a generic starting point.