Main course

Ok here I go… my family’s favorite comfort food, Bolognese.

I’ve got some picky eaters at home.

I used to think, when I was pregnant with my son, that I would raise these incredibly sophisticated eaters.  I assumed that mine would be the child you saw at the sushi bar wielding chopsticks and popping california rolls in his mouth like it was candy.  Oh the fantasies I had!

Well I’m definitely humbled in that area now.   You won’t see  me judging another mother who feeds her children cereal for dinner, and pbj at lunch (yes, I’m guilty… arrest me).

My pride in my home cooking abilities are constantly checked by my kids refusal to eat many of my favorite meals.

But this dish is one of the few exceptions to my grilled cheese and chicken nugget dinner rut.  They’ll eat it, and LOVE it, feeding my ego with comments like “mommy, ur the best cooker ever!”  They’ll even eat the small bits of carrot, celery, and tomatoes that they so painstakingly point out, because it just melts in their little mouths along with that juicy, meaty sauce.

Try it!  I add cinnamon because it just compliments the flavors of the tomatoes and the meat so well.  It’s really subtle, you can taste it, but most people can’t guess what it is!

Try starting this dish in the morning, and let it simmer on your stove through the afternoon (you can use a slow cooker too).  Your family will be drooling as it smells up your house with mouthwatering deliciousness!

tips: get all your ingredients ready first.  Chop your vegetables, measure your liquids, etc.  It will make the actual cooking part flow a lot smoother.

Rigatoni Bolognese 6 servings

2 pieces thick cut bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, smashed or finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1.5 lbs ground beef, 85% lean (or you can split this up and do different variations – veal+pork+beef, or even turkey for a low fat version)
1/4 can tomato paste
1/3-1/2 bottle dry white wine, plus a few tablespoons to adjust the seasoning at the end
1 1/2  28oz. cans diced San Marzano tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon (yes, I said cinnamon!)
1 lb bag rigatoni or other pasta
salt and pepper

………………………………………..

In the future, I’ll be posting pics of the process, but today you’ll have to use your imagination 🙂

………………………………………..

You’ll need a large pot to start.

Chop your onion, celery , carrots and bacon.  Crush you’re garlic, or if you’re like me and use you’re microplane to grate everything, go ahead and grate!

Heat your pot on a medium-high flame for a minute or two and then add the bacon.  It should be nice and crisp in about 4-5 minutes. Remove bacon, leaving the fat in the pot.

Turn your heat down to medium and add your carrots, onion, and celery.  Saute for 10 minutes, giving it a stir every minute or so, so that the veggies don’t brown but just turn translucent.

Add garlic, saute for a minute or so.  You never want to saute your garlic for more than a minute or so or it will burn and turn bitter.  When you lean your head over the pan and can smell its aroma, done.

Now your house is going to smell Ah-may-zing!  Bacon+Onion+Garlic are the trinity of make-you-hungry smells!

Add the ground beef, cook and stir until browned.

Now you can actually pour out some of the fat from the meat if you like.  Using the lid of your pot to hold back the meat and other ingredients, just tilt the pot over the sink or bowl, and pour the excess fat out.

Next over a medium flame, add the tomato paste and cinnamon, and give it a quick stir to incorporate, add the diced canned tomato, bay leaf, white wine, beef broth, and whole milk.

Bring it all to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low.  Let it simmer uncovered for 3-4 hours. Give it a stir every half hour or so, so that the bottom doesn’t burn. You can use a spoon to skim off any excess fat that comes to the surface.  This isn’t a must, but it does make this dish healthy, and it doesn’t rob from any of the flavor.

After about 3 hours, fill a large pot with water , about 2/3s the way up. Add a few tablespoons salt. This will be for the pasta.  It’s always nice to have  a pot of boiling water just ready and waiting when you need it.

Once its nice and thick, adjust the seasoning.  Does it need a little kick? Add a little white wine, or maybe some more salt and pepper.  If it’s too acidic, try adding 1/2 cup or more of milk and let it simmer another 20 minutes to reduce.

I love the subtle cinnamon, I hope you do too.  It just gives it this hidden sweetness, and works so well in this dish!  If you can’t taste it, add a another pinch and stir.

Enjoy!

~Christina

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