Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Mother of Invention

Dead tired and slightly crisp - read hungover - I dragged myself out to shop late yesterday afternoon. Knowing I could not be trusted to navigate the perils of Fairway without a list in such condition, I made one. Carefully. Here's the thing about lists though - you have to actually read them. And perhaps its best to *not* write key items way up in the right hand corner where your tired eyes will fail to look ... lest you forget a critical ingredient for your much desired sauce ... like red wine for instance. Oops!

Only after I'd minced and chopped and begun to saute did I realize that I had no red wine for the sauce. Or at least none that I could rationalize opening for a simple 1/2 cup. Fortunately, I remembered the open bottle of white burgundy in the fridge and further remembered a Bolognese recipe I ran across on Dana McCauley's blog a few months ago in which she used white wine rather than red. Sweet! The sauce and I were back in business and my craving would be satisfied!

The results? Delicious! While I still prefer the use of red wine, the white gave the sauce a somewhat lighter flavor that was not unwelcome. I will post the recipe in its original form, and add that you should feel free to use whatever wine you like - so long as its of good quality.

Bolognese Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 lb. of extra lean ground beef
  • 1/3 lb. of ground pork
  • 1/3 lb. of ground veal
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 large rib of celery cut into small dice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of good quality red wine
  • one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 - 3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • generous grating of fresh nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 - 3 tbsp. fat-free half and half
Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat and add the meats, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes. Saute, stirring often to break up the meat, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the meat begins to brown. Drain the excess fat from the pan then return the mixture to the stove and add the wine. Continue to cook over medium high heat until most of the wine has evaporated, stirring often, about 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, dried basil, parsley, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg. Allow the mixture to come to a full simmer, then reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer on low for 20 to 25 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.

Add in the half and half, stirring well to combine, and season to taste adding some salt and pepper if desired. Allow the sauce to simmer for 5 to 10 more minutes while you cook your pasta. Serve over the pasta of your choice - whole wheat please, if you're on the Beach - with some additional Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley for garnishing. This recipe will serve 6. Enjoy!


Traditional Bolognese recipes generally call for real cream in some form. In fact, the version I used to make back in the 80s called for the meat to be simmered in cream prior to adding the tomatoes. Luscious to be sure, but I'm far too fat-phobic for that now, hence the half and half.

This is a quick and easy recipe for my all time favorite sauce. While the red wine does yield a heartier result, you can't go wrong either way. Necessity really is the mother of invention and this sauce was just what I needed to cure my aching head. Bon appetite!

While we're on the subject of mothers, I might add that today is Mama Diva's birthday. This recipe is dedicated to you, Mama Diva, the greatest mom a girl could have! If I'm funny, its because you gave me your joyful spirit; if I'm witty, its because you gave me my smarts; and, if I'm a Diva, its because you made sure I knew the sun rose and set upon me - like it should any child. Happy birthday, Mom - I love you THIS much!


Dana McCauley said...

Glad to be of use - thanks for the link and for trying my idea!

The Diva on a Diet said...

You're welcome for the link and thanks to your recipe my dinner was saved last night, Dana. Phew! Next time I'm going to make your version entire. Looking forward to it! :)

Deb said...

Well this calls for a celebration - Happy Birthday Pixiegal! I hope you had a beautiful day and many many more to come.

My husband will be operated on in the morning at 7:30. Will check in later tomorrow.


PS Bolognese looked great!

pixelgal said...

Thanks for the wonderful tribute to my significant birthday my dear Diva! Of course the sun rose and set on you as you showed your Divaness early on. I knew you were no ordinary child when you talked at 7 months old, liked to eat lobster at 1 yesr and then when you pointed out the smocking on your dress to your kindergarten teacher! Figures that words would be your strong point. The only thing I can't take credit for is the cooking genes. The grandmas get all does your late mother-in-law, rest her soul. Anyway I'll stop now lest your readers eyes glaze over. Love you back a million times!

Thanks Deb. I did have a great day. And prayers to your husband today. And some for you too. Everything will be all right.

pixelgal said...

P.S. As for the genes, your mother-in-law can't take credit for those after all (it was early when I wrote that)....just the inspiration in sharing her excellent recipes and cooking skills. And as for the words, there was that Blarney Stone thing too when you were younger!

HektikLyfe said...

Wow this stuff looks pro! Great job!

Sass said...

That looks so good...

Oh how I wish I could cook.


The Diva on a Diet said...

Deb - You're both in my prayers today and I hope the surgery is well over by now and the hubby is on the road to recovery. Update us when you can, I'll be thinking of you!

Pixelgal - Aw, you're welcome! And thank you back, that was very sweet indeed! Mwah! xoxoxo

Hektik - its totally pro! LOL and thanks!

Sass - come on over, I'll set a place for you! :)

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Miss Caught Up said...

Hmmm.. I am going to try this out tomorrow night when I cook for Mr. Method :)