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.

bolognese sauce | the merry goumet



Bolognese Sauce

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
Kosher salt
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.

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19 Responses to “pork tamale pie”

  1. 1
    Lynn — June 27, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

    This sounds so yummy! I love casseroles too. I recently joined a meal sharing co-op, and casseroles are really great for swapping. I think this might be my next contribution! Thanks!

  2. 2
    Joy — June 27, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

    This is a wonderful twist to a tamale. I have always wanted to try to make some but I never got the chance. This is the type of recipe I would try.

  3. 3
    Belinda — June 27, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    This looks and sounds totally yummy! Sorry your little man wouldn’t eat it! 🙁

  4. 4

    A version of this was served to me at a book club dinner – it was great because one dish served about 10 of us. Yours looks delicious! [K]

  5. 5
    Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle — June 28, 2010 @ 11:20 am

    I just got some tamales from a vendor in Denver and am once again reminded of how much I love them and how I would never make them…but this I would!

    I grew up with 5 brothers and sisters. Casseroles were my mother’s saving grace not just for ease but as a way to stretch the budget. I still have some favorites I’ve made for years and I think they are the epitomy of ‘comfort food.’

    One day your son will see the light; promise.

  6. 6
    Jason Phelps — June 28, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

    Give your son my address so he can ship me his dinner! That looks awesome and a sure bet on my list of “To Make” meals.


  7. 7
    Just Food Snobs — June 28, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

    Great recipe! Your husband sounds like mine, the spicier the better. With all the cooking I do my son, if he could, would eat cheeseburgers every day!

  8. 8

    Yum, I love spiced meat casseroles! So tasty. Great looking meal!

  9. 9
    Cynthia — June 29, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    This looks so yummy! This is definitely going on my list to try soon! 🙂

  10. 10
    Maria at Fresh Eats — June 29, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

    I love casseroles too, and this one looks great! My three kids all like a lot of foods, but hardly any of the SAME foods, so I hear where you’re coming from…

  11. 11
    Jennifer Hess — June 30, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious. I’m with you, I could eat comfort food like this any time of the year 🙂

  12. 12
    Megan — June 30, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

    Ever since you talked about this on Twitter I have been craving it! We make a version that is basically just meat, cheese, beans, corn, and salsa, with the cornbread topping. Previously my son loved it … but I’m guessing he wouldn’t touch it now. Kids!

  13. 13
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — July 1, 2010 @ 7:37 am

    We ate all sorts of casserole-type dishes when I was younger (ugh – tuna mornay…) but nothing as delicious as this. Your son will come around eventually!

  14. 14
    Magic of Spice — July 1, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

    Looks great!

  15. 15
    Chris — July 4, 2010 @ 8:24 am

    This looks really good to me and yes, casseroles when done right are just the perfect comfort food. I’d probably try the recipe with pulled pork, since I always have some extra frozen. Just smoked 16 lbs of it yesterday.

    • merrygourmet

      merrygourmet replied: — July 4th, 2010 @ 9:24 am

      Chris – I bet it would be delicious with pulled pork!

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  17. 16
    Amber — July 28, 2013 @ 1:01 am

    You wrote, “1 1/2 lean ground pork.” 1.5 what? Pounds, I’m guessing but, I want to be sure before I try to make it.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — July 28th, 2013 @ 8:09 am

      Thanks for pointing this out, Amber. It should be 1.5 pounds. I’ve corrected the recipe above. Thanks!

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