Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bolognese

Okay, so after a jillion dessert recipes, I'm finally sharing something savory again.

Bolognese is a meat-based sauce that's simmered with lots of love and there are countless variations. Some use strictly beef, some use pancetta, some recipes contain milk, and there are some hardcore advocates that say, "It's not a bolognese unless you _____!" Honestly, unless you personally invented the recipe, I don't think you have any right to say what's right and what's wrong. I think if it has the same spirit, follows the general guidelines, and most important of all, if it tastes good, then you're probably on the right track.

Obviously I'm not Italian so this recipe isn't a super authentic, passed down for generations, given to me by my Strega Nona, blah blah blah, holy grail recipe. It's something I just came up with based on what I've watched Food Network chefs doing and what I personally like about bolognese.
Ingredients [makes 4 to 6 cups of sauce]:
1½ lbs ground beef (I used a 90-10 mix; you could use any ground meat of your choice, really, even sausage)
1 medium onion, diced (about 1.5 cups)
2 to 3 carrots, grated (about 1.5 cups)
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 bay leaves
2 x 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes
2 cups water (or wine)
salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon of each)
olive oil

Start by dicing the onions, mincing the garlic (I used a garlic press), and grating the carrots. We always have baby carrots in our fridge because they're a great snack for both humans and dogs so I just used those. I threw them in a food processor.
Heat up a large pot over medium heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and then add in the onions, garlic, and carrots.
Sweat the vegetables until the onions are translucent and the carrots are soft. Add in the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Let the beef cook until it's all browned.
Once the meat is browned, add in the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the canned tomatoes and use a wooden spoon to break them up.
Add in the bay leaves, salt, pepper, and water (or wine). Stir to combine. Lower the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until reduced and thickened.
Tomato splatters so I cover the pot with a mesh splatter screen.
This is what the thickened sauce should look like. Check for seasoning. Serve over pasta, in lasagne (which I'll be sharing tomorrow), or pour into airtight containers and stick in the freezer to consume later.
To use frozen sauce, defrost the sauce and reheat it in saucepan.
Here's the recipe page:

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