Big Batch Bolognese

My first taste of meat sauce for pasta came as a child when my Mom would use a name-brand seasoning packet which shall go nameless here. It was delicious but full of processed stuff. When I had a family of my own, I tried to recreate those flavors without all that processed stuff and came pretty darned close. Then, a while back, I was invited to dinner at a fancy restaurant in town where they made a fantastic bolognese sauce with pork, Italian sausage, beef and a touch of red wine. It was divine! So, I set about figuring out how to make THAT at home as well, feeling like I was graduating a bit from that first attempt at sauce.

I think I’ve done it and wanted to share the recipe with you. I’ve made this recipe numerous times now and it always draws raves. I love putting half the sauce in the freezer, knowing that on a busy night, I’ve got another great meal ready.

Big Batch Bolognese - finished

This makes a big batch of bolognese sauce! Our family of six can get two full meals out of it. It freezes beautifully (I think it actually benefits from some time chilling out) so depending on the size of your family, portion it off in freezer bags for easy defrosting and reheating. Also, note that this is not a saucy sauce that’s going to run over your plate. It’s thick and meant to cling to your pasta. I recommend spaghetti, fettuccine or wide papperadelle noodles or campanelle which is small but ruffly and catches bits of sauce beautifully.

Big Batch Bolognese
Serves up to 12

Ingredients:

1/2 yellow or red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. sugar
2 15-oz cans tomato sauce plus about 1/2 a can of water
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 pound ground beef – 80/20 or 90/10 lean/fat are fine
1lb bulk, hot Italian sausage
1 lb ground pork
Fresh or dried basil, oregano, rosemary – see below
1/4 cup red wine that you’d drink with the meal
Salt to taste
Pasta of your choice
Parmesan cheese to taste

 

Big Batch Bolognese - meat

Save time by cooking the meats, onions and garlic all together.

Instructions:

1. In a large pot, drizzle a little olive oil and heat until just before it starts to smoke.
2. Add the onion, garlic and meats, breaking them up and mixing all ingredients as they brown. Keep cooking until the fat diminishes. You want to have some left for flavor but you don’t want it to be swimming in it.
3. Carefully add the cans of tomato sauce and the tomato paste plus the 1/2 can of water. Keep the cans nearby in case you have to add a little more water as things thicken. This is a good way to also get every last bit of sauce out of the cans and prepare them for the recycling bin.
4. Stir everything together, breaking up the tomato paste.
5. At this point, add about 1/4 tsp. of each of the herbs. If you are using dried herbs, crumble them between your fingers and mix.  
6. Add the sugar and mix. This is an old trick to tang some of the acidity off of the tomato sauce and to give it a more well-rounded flavor. Add too much and you’ll ruin the sauce so be conservative. You can always add more. 
7. While the sauce is cooking over medium heat, get another big pot of salted water boiling and make the pasta. The sauce can be left waiting but the pasta can’t. 
8. Cook the sauce until it has thickened a bit, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan. 
9. A few minutes before serving, add another 1/4 tsp. of each of the herbs. I do this because I like the layering of herb flavors that have cooked with the dish and the ones that are more pronounced on their own. 
10. Sprinkle in some parmesan cheese and leave it out to serve with the finished meal.
11. Add the wine and stir. 
12. Drain your pasta and serve the sauce over it or mix the two together before serving if you’re going to eat it all. Don’t freeze pasta and sauce together – it doesn’t reheat well. 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

The Easiest Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever By Edan Goode

I love spaghetti and meatballs. It makes me feel so Italian to eat it and I’m not Italian. Visions of that cute scene in “Lady and the Tramp” come to mind with the two dogs’ little doggie lips meeting over a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. But the idea of making meatballs, what with the different kinds of meat, bread crumbs, egg, herbs, frying, etc., it just intimidates me.

Recently though, my son asked if I could make spaghetti and meatballs sometime. Visions of the entire process, which I had tried once, came flooding back and I immediately felt weary. But then I thought of a way to simplify things, gave it a go and the whole family raved.

Easiest Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever  

Serves 6

4-5 links of spicy or mild Italian sausage
1-2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce, any variety
1 tsp. dried basil or spoonful of pesto sauce * to taste
1 tsp. dried oregano to taste
Spaghetti or any other pasta shape you like

Step 1: Get a pot of water boiling. Remove the sausage from the casings by squeezing it out of one end, in small globs, about the size of a large marble. Let them fall onto a cutting board. When done, quickly and lightly roll each one into more of an actual round ball shape. If they are feeling too soft, put them in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before rolling.

Step 2: In a large, non-stick skillet, preheated on medium-high, brown the meatballs, turning them only when they release from the pan. They don’t have to be cooked through at this point, just browned.

Step 3: Transfer the meatballs to a pot with high sides that is large enough to hold the sauce. Pour in one jar of sauce and eye-ball it to see if you feel you need to add some or all of another jar. You want the sauce to be thin enough to ladle over the pasta but still meaty with the meatballs. Let the sauce simmer over medium heat while the pasta boils.

Step 4: Taste the sauce to see if the seasonings from the sausage and the jarred sauce have given you the flavor you want. If not, add the seasonings to taste. Also, if you feel it’s just a little too acidic, add 1 tsp. sugar which will round it out nicely.
* When you don’t have basil or just want extra-wonderful basil flavor, a teaspoon of pesto sauce works beautifully, especially since it also has pinon nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil built in. It’s a good little trick to remember for sauces and soups.

Step 5: Drain the pasta and ladle sauce and meatballs over it, topping with a few shakes or Parmesan Cheese if desired.

Watch the video to see the making of The Worlds Easiest Spaghetti and Meatballs in action:

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