My ultimate comfort food? A big pot of bolognese sauce bubbling away on the stove. It does take an entire afternoon on the weekend to prepare, but it’s worth it (and this batch is big enough to freeze some for later – what’s better than pulling this out for an instantly delicious dinner during the week?) My recipe is adapted/streamlined from the La Cucina Italiana magazine recipe – it’s not the typical red meat sauce that you might get at an American restaurant. This version isn’t as heavy on the tomato sauce and it’s not as “beefy” because it’s an equal mix of ground beef and pork, with a generous bit of bacon thrown in, too. I’m a big believer in “mise en place,” or the technique of chopping/preparing all of the ingredients that you’ll need before you start cooking. I’d like to think that I do this because I’m a good cook, but I probably I do it because I’m completely Type-A. Either way, the prep time is included in the 4-hour timeframe.
Sunday Bolognese Sauce (takes about 4 hours total)
—14 ounce can of tomato paste or 14 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes in juice, snipped up in the can using kitchen shears
—1 1/2 cups water
—1 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste from the tube
—1 beef bouillon cube
—1 rib of celery, finely chopped
—1 small onion, finely chopped
—1 medium carrot, finely chopped
—4 ounces of bacon, finely chopped
—1 lb. ground beef
—1 lb ground pork
—sea salt and black pepper
—1 to 1 1/4 cups dry red wine (e.g., Chianti)
—1 bay leaf
—3/4 cup milk
—bit of grated nutmeg
In a small pot, bring the water to a simmer, and whisk in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and beef bouillon cube, then set aside.
In a large pot (e.g., my Dutch oven), cook the bacon, celery, onion, and carrot over a low flame until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. The bacon will render the fat that the vegetables will cook in. (You’ll see a bit of brown on the bottom of the pan, but not on the vegetables themselves).
Add the beef and pork, keeping the pot on a low flame. With a wooden spoon, break up the meat into small pieces, and add salt and pepper to season. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes on the low flame.
Add the wine (I used 1 1/4 cups of Chianti this time) and bring the mixture to a boil on a high flame. Cook until the wine is mostly evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Now add the tomato/beef/water mixture and the bay leaf.
Turn the flame down to the lowest setting, cover the sauce, and let it barely simmer for 2.5 hours. Remove the lid, add the milk, and let the sauce simmer for another 30 minutes. If the sauce looks too liquid, you can increase the flame slightly for a stronger simmer during the last 30 minutes. To finish, add a bit of grated nutmeg, and add more salt and pepper to taste, if needed. This sauce might not win any beauty contests, but looks aren’t everything, you know! Enjoy!
PS: I realize that the knitting content has been a little thin lately – but there’s always knitting (or at this particular time – crocheting) going on behind the scenes…..more on this soon!