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Lisa’s Bolognese Pasta Sauce

5 things to know before moving to Vaughan

I love this bolognese pasta sauce!  I’ve modified it to perfection and it freezes beautifully.  I’ve used this sauce for company on a Saturday night, I’ve given this sauce to friends, family, and clients as a gift, and I use it all the time at home.

It makes for a great evening meal when you’re on the run.  I love to feed my family and I love that the food we eat is made from me.  Don’t get me wrong, when I’m not in the mood – no one complains here.  I have free reign of my kitchen, which is what I love.

All you need for this is pasta and the sauce, and you have a great meal.  Try gnocchi, spaghetti, or rigatoni. And on fresh-made pasta? WOW!

I triple the recipe to make big batches of it.  Why not, right?  I make this sauce depending on how I feel, which usually ends up on a late Saturday afternoon – recipe calls for red wine, right?  It’s a perfect pair.  A glass of red wine while i cook: it’s my therapy.

I want to start this recipe by saying prep all your ingredients beforehand.  It is so easy to have everything prepared, cut, washed, diced and sliced before you start.  This way all you need to do is add as you go.  I think that the reason most of us stress about dinners is because we get home from a long day of work, we have no idea what to eat but we’re already starving!

It’s easier when you go grocery shopping and buy 2-3 days worth of ingredients for meals that you have pre-planned.  Sounds like a lot, right? Honestly, it’s not.  Try it! I’d love to hear about it.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef.  (I vary with this; sometimes I combine beef and ground veal, or even pork, or even all 3 types of meat).  This is up to your preference.  
  • 2 bottles of passata (already strained tomatoes)
  • 2 cups red wine – make sure it’s a wine you would drink and serve to friends – it makes all the difference.  
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tbsps of tomato paste
  • couple of bay leafs (i use dry ones)
  • pinch of granulated sugar and hot pepper flakes

Before I start on my tomato sauce, I always do this next step.  The only difference is, pancetta is added for the bolognese.

Starting Ingredients:

  • 2 red peppers – diced
  • 5-6 garlic cloves – smashed
  • 3-4 carrots – diced
  • 2 onions diced
  • 1 cup diced pancetta or bacon

In a Dutch oven, add a tablespoon of olive oil, heat over medium-high heat.  Add pancetta.  Once it starts to brown a little, add the red peppers, carrots, onions and garlic, and start to caramelize them.  I find that if the heat is on medium high, and I don’t stir the veggies often (but keep your eye on it) they start to brown better.

Caramelizing them takes 20 or so minutes.  We don’t want them to burn though, so when you notice some browning, remove from heat and transfer it to a food processor. Blend it all up.  No one will know red peppers and carrots are in the sauce.  It balances the flavours – trust me!

Return pot to stove, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and add ground meat, breaking up with a spoon until no longer pink – about 5-10 minutes.  Drain fat from pan and put beef in bowl, set aside.

This is where I add my pureed veggies from the food processor back into my Dutch oven.  Add the milk, and simmer until almost no liquid remains.  Add the passata.  After you add the passata I usually fill up the bottles with water 3/4 of the way – swish all that extra sauce out.  Add the water to the sauce.  Add the beef, red wine, tomato paste, bay leaf, sugar, and hot pepper flakes (your preference).

Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened.  I cook this for about one to two hours, depending on how much sauce I have.  Make sure you start off with a big enough pot!

And that’s it!  Remove your bay leaf(s), boil your choice of pasta, and dinner is served!

There’s a lot of things to wash with this recipe.  That’s why I like to make a huge batch of it.  

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