So in case you needed any further proof that I’m slightly off my rocker, I’m here to let you know that, on a work night – a Tuesday night, to be exact – I decided to make a bolognese sauce. Why? Why would I make a sauce that requires three to four hours of cooking time if I wasn’t going to start cooking until 7:30 p.m.?
Well, for one thing, I was cranky. And cooking usually helps me deal with my crankiness. Also, what else was I going to do? Take a ride to the laundromat? Clean the apartment? Go to the gym? Psh. We all know that, if I hadn’t spent the evening cooking, I probably would have binge-watched Netflix and played Candy Crush until I passed out at, like, 10. At least making bolognese sauce was productive.
I actually called my mother on my way home from work and asked her if she thought I was crazy.
Me: “Would it be insane if I went home and made bolognese sauce?”
Mom: “Why would it be insane?”
Me: “Because it takes, like, three hours.”
Mom: “Oh. Well, do you have three hours?”
Me: “I guess?”
Mom: “Well then. It’s not crazy.”
That was really all the assurance I needed.
If you google ‘bolognese sauce,’ it will take you approximately 24 seconds to realize there are as many recipes for bolognese sauce as there are people who make it. I only tried this one recipe – a variation on Anne Burrell’s – but I think there are probably tons and tons of recipes out there that are equally delicious. No matter how you make it – with ground beef, wine and tomato paste, like me, or if you use broth, a mix of meats, canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, milk or cream, it’s the epitome of comfort food and a total crowd pleaser. (Well. For omnivores.)
Spaghetti bolognese (adapted from Anne Burrell)
extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 lb ground beef
2 1/2 cups red wine (I used chianti)
2 6-oz cans tomato paste
3 bay leaves
4-5 sprigs thyme, tied in a bundle
spaghetti, for serving
grated Parmesan, for serving
salt and pepper
Puree your vegetables in a food processor until they make a coarse paste. Heat your oil in a large sauce or stock pot, then add your vegetables to the pot and season with salt. Cook the vegetables over medium-high heat, stirring them occasionally, until the moisture in the paste evaporates and the vegetables begin to brown (about 15-20 minutes). Next, add your ground beef to the pot, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the beef is totally browned – this took me about 10 minutes, but my stove gets very hot, very fast. It might take those of you with less temperamental (read: better) stoves a bit longer – don’t rush the browning process!
Once your beef is browned, add the tomato paste and cook for about five minutes. Next, add your wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Be sure to stir up all those delicious, caramelized brown bits on the bottom of the pot, because ommmm.
Add lukewarm water to the pot, until it covers the meat by about an inch. Add your bay leaves and thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow the pot to simmer. You’ll need to keep an eye on it, and add more water as the water in the pot evaporates. Don’t add too much at a time – a cup or two should do it – and continue stirring up the contents to be sure your sauce doesn’t start sticking to the bottom of the pot. Again, maybe this is a just a thing that happens to people with stupid stoves, but whatever. Stir away.
The sauce will need to simmer for about three or four hours. I think I decided to call it a night after about three and a half hours – it was like, midnight, guys. The good news was, it was ready just in time for Colin, who walked in the door just as I was adding my cooked spaghetti and grated parmesan to the pot.
I can’t even tell you how many servings this made. I had to split it into two rather large containers. I’d say maybe six?