Monday, July 22, 2013

Bolognese

This is one of my go-to yummy, feeds-a crowd, not-too-bad-for-you basic recipes. Yes, it's pasta and meat sauce, but you can dress it up enough to serve to company, or just make a big batch and freeze it for yourself!



The night I made this, I served it with gnocchi, sauteed broccolini, and toasted ciabatta rolls with garlic butter. A lovely-looking plate, so of course I forgot to take a picture. The next night when I ate the leftovers, I served it over ravioli and... a day-old potato knish. This was, as expected, a bit weird. But kind of like a giant gnocco? The moral is: bolognese tastes good on lots of things.

I try to keep this recipe on the lighter side by using ground turkey or super lean beef, skim milk, and fat free half and half (of course, then I add bacon). You can, however, feel free to use fatty beef, cream, and more cream (and more bacon). It will be delicious. But the light(er) version is pretty dang good anyway.



Bolognese Sauce

This makes a lot - approximately 8 servings. Cut in half for a more reasonable amount, or freeze half of it for later.

4 slices bacon
1 yellow onion, diced
2-3 carrots, or ~12 baby carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef or turkey (or really any ground meat of your choice)
Salt
Pepper
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup skim milk
28 oz canned tomatoes (preferably San Marzano, but any will do)
6 oz tomato paste
1 Tbsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning blend
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cream, half and half, or fat free half and half

In a dutch oven (this is important if you're making the full recipe; if you're halving it, you can use a large saute pan), cook the bacon. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels.

Skim off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Saute the onion, carrots, and celery in the bacon fat over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent and carrots are beginning to soften. Give everything a good stir as you saute to make sure it gets coated evenly.

Add the minced garlic and cook another minute until fragrant.

Add ground beef, and season with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Continually break up the meat with a spatula as it cooks. The meat should be cooked through in roughly 5 minutes.

Once the meat is cooked, add the flour give it a quick stir. Add in the milk and stir thoroughly, then let it cook until heated through and thickening.

Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste and mix in to blend.

Crumble the reserved bacon and add to sauce. Turn heat down to low.

At this point you can really season to your tastes. I used approximately a tablespoon of dried oregano, a few pinches of dried basil, 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes to give it a little kick, a few dashes of garlic powder for good measure, and a bit more salt and pepper.

Once the seasonings seem right, cover and simmer on low while you cook your pasta.

When the pasta is cooked, add in the cream to your bolognese and stir to combine.

Heap lots of sauce onto your pasta, top with freshly grated parmesan, and enjoy with some red wine!

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