Pasta Bolognese, mmmm!

Thursday night in our house is pizza night, tonight was Papa Johns.  It’s nice having a night that I don’t have to think about or plan for, just the family sitting around the table talking about school or work and peeling grapes to look like eyeballs.  Yesterday night I made one of my favorite home-cooked meals, bolognese with pappardelle pasta.

I have only been to able to find that pasta at the fancier grocery store, it’s wider and gives the dish a more rustic feel to it.  It comes formed into these cute little nest curls.  The bolognese recipe is one I’ve adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.  An excellent cookbook that my cooking instructor recommended.  I double his recipe because it is easily frozen; when pulling it out of the freezer on another night I can get that all day simmered taste without the all day simmered work.  Plus it’s easier to grab the meats in one pound amounts versus having to go to the meat counter and request half a pound of each.  I will post the recipe here with the amounts doubled as I make it, you can halve everything but why not make 2-3 nights dinners with around the same amount of work?

Bolognese-Style Meat Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small onions, minced (or one large onion)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and minced
  • 2 celery stalks, minced
  • 1/2 cup minced bacon or pancetta (I prefer the pancetta, it can be found behind the deli counter)
  • 1 pound lean ground pork, or use all beef
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dry white wine (the writer says juice from the tomatoes would work as well but I think I would miss the flavor of the wine in the sauce).
  • 2 28 or 35 ounce cans of whole plum tomatoes drained, reserving juice if using in place of wine
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock, preferable homemade (I just grab the organic beef stock in the box)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or milk (I did not double the amount of cream, I find that even just half a cup makes the sauce very creamy and tasty.  You can still double it if you like)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  1. Put the olive oil in a larger, deep skillet or sauce-pan.  Turn the heat to medium-low and, a minute later, add the onion, carrot, celery, and bacon or pancetta.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  (With a larger volume of food some steps may take longer.)
  2. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until all traces of red are gone.

    Disregard the little monkey, he likes to sneak into pictures.

    Add the wine or tomato juice, raise the heat a bit, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands and add them to the pot; stir, then add the stock.  Turn the heat to low and cook at a slow simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes and any remaining meat clumps.  After an hour or so, add the salt and pepper.  Cook for at least another hour, until much of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is very thick.  At this point you can refrigerate the sauce for up to a couple of days or freeze for later.  I use about half, maybe less, for dinner that night and portion out the rest into quart-sized freezer bags labeled with the sauce and date.
  4. Add the cream, half-and-half, or milk and cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste for more salt and/or pepper as needed.  Serve immediately with any pasta, topping with the parmesan if you are so inclined.  Enjoy!  A perfect hearty meal for a cold day.

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