My girlfriend doesn’t eat red meat. She also happens to be out of town this week, so no rules, no parents, ice cream for dinner, and this glorious thing!
I decided to “treat myself1” by making this bolognese sauce. Now you may be thinking, “Pasta sauce?! Stop wasting time with the basics. Don’t you just put meat into tomatoes?” Well actually yeah that’s pretty much it…but that’s not the point! The point of this post is to give
some two (!) tips that can seriously upgrade your bolognese sauce. I also hope this post will convince you (1) how delicious homemade pasta is and (2) how relatively simple it can be to make.2
1 My life is not very exciting.
2 Okay maybe not the second point, but I’m pretty confident I can sell you on the first.
- 80/20 ground beef (1 lb)
- Italian whole peeled tomatoes (28 oz)1
- Yellow onions (2)
- Carrot (1)
- Celery (2 stalks)
- Dry white wine (sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio)2
- Spice mix (Salt, pepper, crush red pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme)
- Whole milk
- Whole nutmeg3
- Pasta (I used rigatoni)
- Parmigiano-reggiano4 a.k.a. parmesan
1 Tip #1: Use canned San Marzano tomatoes. It is the Ferrari? Lamborghini? (my knowledge of Italian sports cars is limited) of tomatoes. Unfortunately it is not pictured above, because I am a moron who forgets to place a can of tomatoes in a bolognese sauce recipe. Yay go me. Please do not use jarred sauces like Ragu or Prego. They are loaded with
sugar high fructose corn syrup and salt.
2 Any $10 bottle will do. Don’t use boxed wine though. Never Franzia **shudders**.
3 Tip #2: Tomatoes are extremely acidic so we need some sweetness (the carrots and onion help) to cut the acidity. You could give money to BIG SUGAR
…or Nutmeg is a fantastic natural sweet and is an excellent spice to help elevate savory dishes. Oh shit…I already revealed both secrets and I am only 300 words deep.
4 Fun fact: By Italian law, only cheeses made from certain provinces can be labelled as “Parmigiano-reggiano”. It is exactly like how champagne is actually just a type of sparking wine made from Champagne grapes, or how cognac is actually just a type of brandy made in Cognac, or how scotch is actually just a type of whiskey made in Scotland…oh my fucking god these products are everywhere. Why are Europeans so protective of their fancy products?
Cook the ground beef in a saucepan on medium heat and break it down with a wooden spoon (You don’t need any olive oil, there is more than enough fat in the ground beef to cook itself). Cook until the meat is brown. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the crumbled ground beef onto paper towels.1
1 I like using paper towels, because it absorbs the fat. I also blot my pizza with paper napkins. Yes that is very “un-New York” of me. No I don’t care what you think.
Dice the onion, chop the celery, shred the carrot, mince the garlic, and chop the parsley.1 Put the diced onion in the same saucepan2 and cook until they are slightly golden. Mix in the celery, carrot, garlic, and parsley. Cook for a couple of minutes and add the ground beef.
1 There are far too many verbs (didn’t even get to use julienne) for “use knife and do something with vegetable”.
2 We sure don’t want to waste the yummy fat residue scraps stuck to the bottom of the pan!
Turn the heat to high and after a minute pour in1 half a bottle of dry white wine. Cook until the white wine is reduced by 2⁄3.
1 DO NOT HOVER over the saucepan when you pour the wine. Fun story time! The first time I cooked with wine, I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about so I peered my stupid head over the pan. Of course then the alcohol-infused vapor immediately formed a mushroom cloud that falcon punched me in the face. It was awful. Same rule applies when cooking with dried red chilies. It’s like tear gassing yourself.
While the white wine is reducing, open the canned San Marzano tomatoes into a large mixing bowl. With nothing but your god-given hands, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and crush those tomatoes. After the wine has reduced by 2⁄3, pour in the hand crushed tomatoes along with the spice mix and turn the heat to low.
Add some whole milk1 and grate a dash of the whole nutmeg. Lightly stir and let the sauce
simmer travel to Flavortown for about 1 hour.2
1 Apologies to all my lactose intolerant friends.
2 This would be a good time to work on that second half of the wine.
Make your pasta,1 but scoop your pasta out before it fully cooks (~2 mins before al dente). Finish cooking in another saucepan topped with the bolognese sauce, so the pasta cooks with the sauce and can absorb the flavor. If the sauce is too thick, add pasta water.
1 I’m not going to waste my word count describing “how to make pasta”. Like come on
you probably should already know how to do that by now…
Finish by grating
crack dust parmigiao-reggiano until your knuckles are bloody.