Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Eryka's Weeknight Bolognese


A Two for Tuesday Recipe 

I am a big fan of Italian food, especially pasta. Pasta dishes are hearty, homey and the possibilities are endless. I do love a good tomato sauce; I make my own in a slow cooker and let it cook all day, but what if you come home from a long day and don't have time to stew a sauce but want that home made taste? I have created a weeknight bolognese sauce that is quick without sacrificing flavor or quality. A bolognese is a ragu, a meat sauce; it is very simple to make and doesn't need to stew for a long time. You will see that it has a lot of ingredients and that is the longest part of the recipe, chopping the vegetables. I find chopping therapeutic, fun as well as gratifying since I know what I'm adding to my food. Taking a closer look at the recipe, you will see a different ingredient: sugar! There is a theory that states that sugar added to tomato sauce will help cut the acidity. I have researched this claim to find that there is a 50/50 chance it is true. However, what I do know is that the sugar does bring out the sweetness in the tomatoes, thus adding a much needed slight sweetness to the sauce; I say that's a great thing! For those weeknight pasta cravers, I hope you opt out of opening a jar of tomato sauce to make this simple, satisfying bolognese sauce. Enjoy!

Serves 4

1lb ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 green or red pepper, chopped
4-5 pieces dried sun dried tomato (optional)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 fresh tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can stewed tomato
18-20 oz crushed tomato
2 tablespoons red wine

1. In a large sauce pan, heat oil on medium heat. Brown meat. Set aside.

2. To the same sauce pan, add the onion, celery, carrot, pepper and sun dried tomato pieces. Cook until onion is translucent about 8-10 minutes.

3. Add the garlic and fresh tomatoes. Cook for about 3 minutes.

4. Add the oregano and basil leaves. Cook until fragrant.

5. Carefully, add the tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, crush tomato and the red wine. Cook until bubbling for about 3 minutes then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Using an immersion stick blender, run it through the sauce using quick pulses, this will further thicken the sauce. Leave as smooth or as chunky as you like.

7. Add the ground beef back into sauce pan and stew with the sauce for 20-25 minutes. You can stew it for as long as you'd like (check and stir sauce constantly) but it will be ready in the 20-25 minute range.

Serve over your pasta of choice, salad and garlic bread. Enjoy!

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