my sunday sauce: a bolognese sauce
I used to look for recipes to make that would take just a short time, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, from start to finish. Quick preparation, quick cook time, as few pots as possible – those were my criteria. Well, that plus a glossy magazine photo of the fabulous finished dish.
Of course, those recipe selection criteria existed in the Before I Learned To Cook era. Those were the days when the George Foreman grill reigned supreme, and every meal seemed to be comprised of grilled chicken. Grilled chicken on a salad. Grilled chicken over rice. Grilled chicken over beans and rice. Grilled chicken with steamed broccoli.
We don’t eat a lot of chicken now. I’m sure you understand why.
But this is a different era. My confidence in my ability to cook, though still lacking, is much better than it was. I’ve made dishes and meals that I’m proud of. Heck, I’ve put them on display here. In public! For you to judge!
And you all have been so very kind, by the way. I love you for that.
The point is, I’m no longer intimidated by a recipe that calls for more than 30 minutes, from the first chop of the knife until cooked food is on the plate. In fact, I often crave a lengthy time in the kitchen, wearing my red apron and my flip flops, moving between sink and stove and oven to prepare something amazing (hopefully) for my family to eat. And maybe it’s selfish, but a three or four hour cook time means I’m stuck at home, with nothing to do except stir a pot, flip through a magazine, read a book with Madeline, or catch up on Twitter.
I love this at-home time, with no need to go anywhere – a Stay At Home Day, as my 5 year old son calls it.
This Bolognese sauce provided me with a fantastic Stay At Home Day on Sunday. For close to four hours, I stirred this pot of deliciousness. I began sampling little spoonfuls after the first hour, and with each hour of simmering, the flavors intensified and became more rich and robust. Though not a traditional choice, I served the sauce with bucatini, mostly because I like the slipperiness and smooth roundness of the pasta. Bucatini is a pasta made for slurping. It’s fun for kids, which means that it’s also fun for me. Plus, I love saying bucatini. Boo-ka-teeeeny.
I couldn’t go anywhere on Sunday afternoon, and then I was rewarded with bucatini with Bolognese sauce for dinner. It was pretty much heaven.
Serve this meat sauce over the pasta of your choice - the classic is tagliatelle, but truthfully, nearly any pasta will work - and with a hefty grating of fresh Parmesan cheese on top.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (26- to 28-ounces each) tomato puree
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot, and cook vegetables until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more, or until garlic is fragrant. Add beef, pork, and a big pinch of salt; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up any clumps, until meat is browned and none of it is pink. Add milk and Italian seasoning, and cook, stirring often until the milk has evaporated almost completely, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add white wine; cook, stirring often, until the wine has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree; when the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat down to low. Simmer for at least 2 hours (and up to 4 if you have the time). Salt and pepper to taste.