January 7, 2013

Weeknight Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce


Yikes. It's only January and I'm already behind. I thought I had things under control. December ended pretty quietly. We celebrated Christmas in New Jersey at my parents' house. Then we came back up to Boston for the last few days of winter vacation. We assembled some Ikea bookshelves. Went through piles of paperwork. Did loads and load of laundry. I even cleaned the humidifiers for God's sake.

But then it was January 2nd. And school started up. And work. And after-school activities. And before I knew it, it was January 7th and I hadn't managed to update my blog.

So really, this recipe fits right in with my current state of mind. I want to slow down. But I just don't have time.

This recipe is a fast take on a traditionally slow-cooked meal. A proper Bolognese simmers on the stove for hours. Over all that time, the onions, carrots, celery and ground beef melt into the hearty wine and tomato sauce. A splash of milk tenderizes the whole thing. The resulting sauce is rich and creamy and very comforting.

This recipe comes pretty close. I mean, let's face it. You're not going to get the same sauce in 30 minutes that you would if you let it simmer for four hours. So if you have four hours, make a traditional Bolognese. But if you don't -- if, like me, you want to come home on a Monday evening and have some pasta with a sauce that's close enough to a real Bolognese -- then make this. You won't regret it. And maybe you'll even have time left over to knock something else off your To Do list.

Cook beef until it starts to brown.

Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. (I accidentally added the tomato paste here too, but it all turned out alright.)

Stir until well combined.

Add wine.

Add tomato sauce, salt and pepper. This is where I should have added the tomato paste. Bring to a boil and simmer.

Once you've got your pasta boiling, finish the sauce. Add basil.

Then heavy cream.

And give it all a good stir.

Add the cooked pasta.

Stir the pasta into the sauce. Add a handful of grated Parmesan.

Buon appetito!

Weeknight Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground sirloin
4 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 lb dried pasta
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.    Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute.

2.    Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined.

3.    Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

4.    Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the box.

5.    While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.

6.    When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well.

7.    Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Serves 4 to 5

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