Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Easy Meal: Pasta Bolognese (Meat Sauce for the toddler set!)

I am always looking for great meals that fit the following: easy to cook, easy to freeze, healthy and tasty and, of course, something we can all eat. This recipe for Bolognese Sauce meets those requirements. It is just delicious and couldn't be much more simple. It also uses the kind of ingredients that you tend to have around the house. Finally, I have made it with ground chicken and it is still quite good.

This recipe is adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan and is reprinted on a variety of websites.

Bolognese Meat Sauce

Makes about 2 cups. One of the best parts of this sauce is that if you don't have the 3 or 4 hours it takes to cook, you can turn off the heat whenever you need to leave and simply turn it back on as long as you finish cooking that same day. This sauce keeps in the refrigerator for 3 days and can be frozen, too.

The mirepoix mixture from Trader Joe's is great if you don't have the time to chop the onions, celery and carrots.


1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
3/4 pound ground beef
Black pepper
1 cup milk (Hazan uses whole but I use 1 %)
Whole nutmeg for grating
1 cup dry white wine [I used red]
1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes, with their juice

1. Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in a heavy-bottomed pot and turn the heat to medium. Cook and stir until the onion is translucent. Add the celery and carrot and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring to coat the vegetables with fat.

2. Add the meat, a large pinch of salt, and some freshly ground pepper. Break the meat up with a fork, stir well, and cook until the meat has lost its raw color.

3. Reduce the heat to low, add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it bubbles away completely (this took quite a while). Stir in about 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

4. Add the wine and let it simmer away (on a very low temperature). When the wine has evaporated, stir in the tomatoes. When they begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours (Hazan says more is better), stirring from time to time. If the sauce begins to dry out, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary to keep it from sticking. At the end, there should be no water left, and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste for salt.

5. Toss with cooked, drained pasta and serve freshly grated cheese at the table.

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