We were looking for an easy meal afterreturning from a long weekend in Bandon. And I didn’t want to go to the grocery store, so pasta with bolognese sauce it was. Typically bolognese sauce simmers for several hours, but I found a recipe in Cooks Illustrated last year that cuts the time way back (to about 30 minutes) and achieves similar results. It makes a pretty big batch, so we freeze the leftovers for lasagna. We used some of our home canned tomatoes and ground beef from Deck Family Farm to make it a local meal.
Easy bolognese sauce, adapted from Cooks Illustrated (March & April 2008 issue)
Makes 6 cups
4 oz white mushrooms (we substituted about 1 oz of dried porcini mushroom that were soaked in hot water)
1 large slice of white sandwich bread (we used stale sourdough bread, and have used whole wheat before)
2 Tbsp milk (if you have whole, use that)
1 lb ground beef
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained and reserving 1/4 cup liquid
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, minced or 1 tsp dried (we used marjoram because I don’t have any oregano left)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (we used tomato puree)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1. Process mushrooms in food processor with about 8 pulses. Transfer to bowl. Add bread, milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper to food processor. Process until smooth. Add ground beef and pulse about 6 times (until combined).
2. Heat oil over medium high. Add onion and mushrooms and cook until vegetables are browned. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and tomato paste and cook for about a minute. Add reserved tomato liquid and oregano (if using dried). Loosen any browned bits from bottom of pan. Add meat mixture and cook until meat loses its red color (about 2 minutes). Stir in crushed and diced tomatoes and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and very gently simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes. Stir in cheese and oregano (if using fresh). Season & serve over pasta. I recommend a fresh tagliatelle pasta here. We had tagliatelle with bolognese sauce at Matt’s holiday party at Adams Place that was amazing. Dinner tonight was almost as good.
If you are a purist, Marcella Hazan has a great recipe in Essentials of Italian Cooking.