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Recipes // Steve's Pasta Bolognese

Friday, October 18, 2013

I searched article after article and recipe after recipe for what I view as the perfect bolognese sauce. After much trial and error, I finally found a balance in ingredients and cooking process that results in an amazing sauce that I have made over and over again.

Hi everyone, Steve (Christina's husband) here. I've been talking about doing a guest post on Proper Hunt for oh, 5 years now? At last, here I am! I decided a few weeks ago to make a huge pot of my favorite bolognese sauce, and Christina had the great idea to share the recipe with you all. So without further ado, below is the ingredient list and step-by-step tips on making what I view as the perfect bolognese sauce! Make sure you only attempt this if you have several hours on hand.

I've adapted this recipe largely from Anne Burrell's, but with some substantive tweaks. Mainly, my version ups the amount of veg and I often use ground turkey as the meat. Ground turkey you say?! Yep, I guarantee even an old shoe would taste delicious after cooking in good red wine and fresh thyme for hours. I find that this typically yields about 8 substantial servings, so we will eat it the night I make it and then pack up and freeze 3 more dinner-for-two's worth of sauce into freezer. Ultimately the yield depends on how much you sauce up your pasta. We like a good amount of sauce.

2 large onions or 4 small, cut into 1-inch dice
1 lb of carrots
6 ribs of celery
6 cloves of garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil for cooking
Kosher salt to taste
2 pounds of ground turkey thigh
2 cups of tomato paste
1 bottle of red wine (I like to use Mark West pinot noir, pictured above)
3 bay leaves 1 bunch tied thyme
Water (several cups, but depends on how quickly it evaporates)


As pictured above, I like to set all of my ingredients out at once, my 'mise en place.' Here I'm cutting the thyme and tying it into a bunch.


Our food processor was not working, ugh. So after peeling the carrots, I used the fine edge of cheese grater to grate them. I did the same with the celery, though it became a stringy mess and I had to chop it up a bunch more.


Lots of carrot.


Next I got to chopping the onions. I tried to get them small, but not finely chopped. It's OK to have some chunkiness in there because the veg cooks for a long time and gets soft and delicious.


As you can see, my veggies filled up this large bowl, so there is a lot. Honestly though, you'll never know there was vegetables in the final product.


My arms are tired from all that hand grating. Time to test the wine, to make sure it's not gone bad, right.


Add a glug of olive oil to a large pot on medium-high heat (I'm using a Le Creuset wannabe pot, which works great) and then add the carrots, celery, and onions. Cook it forever. Really though, you need at least 20 to 30 minutes of cooking, which feels like an eternity. It's worth it. The veg will start to turn into a thick golden paste. You'll have to stir pretty often to keep it from burning.


There's the color I'm taking about. At this point I press in the cloves of garlic. You can chop the garlic if you don't have a press. Smells so good!


So I've spared you from the photo of beautiful raw ground turkey (kidding) going into the pot. But, after I added the garlic I let the veg cook for a few more minutes. Then I added the turkey (and a probably about a tablespoon of salt) and let it cook for another eternity (20-30 mins) until it got really brown. You might get some burn at the bottom of the pan, which is OK. Add the tomato paste to the mix and cook for another 5 minutes or so.


See that red paste? You're almost there. Add the wine, if you haven't already drank the bottle. Maybe buy 2 bottles in case, because you really need almost the full bottle for the sauce. Scrape the bottom while adding the wine. You can add it slowly, but do it all at once.


Throw in the herbs and then add enough water to cover the meat (2-3 cups, sometimes more). Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 3 or more hours. You will likely need to add water as you go. You can taste and adjust the salt as it cooks.


The final product of the sauce. My favorite thing is to take some crusty bread and drag it through the stuff that's been cooking on the edges. Soooo good.


Boil your pasta in salted water and don't overcook! I deliberately undercook my pasta so that it comes out al dente. I also usually add a scoop of sauce to the pasta while it is still in the strainer. When it is fresh out of the water it will absorb the sauce, giving it a beautiful color (and flavor).


If you like, top it off with some good parmesan cheese.


Time to eat!

I hope you all enjoyed my first blog post ever ;) Try the sauce for yourself!


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