Monday, October 28, 2013
Big Batch Bolognese Sauce
It snowed last week here. Snow! In October! I'm never really ready for winter, but I'm especially not ready for it when it starts this soon. Give me my autumn, Universe!
Since the weather has cooled down, I've been craving slow-cooked comfort food in a major way. In that vein, a few weekends ago I made a delicious bolognese sauce that I'm so excited to share with you. Coming up on Friday, I'll share a fabulous recipe I made using this sauce. It's going to be a delicious week here on the blog!
As I do with so many things I make these days, I just kind of winged it with this recipe. I don't know if this would be considered "traditional" bolognese sauce, because I never really looked up any recipes. I just did my own thing, and I was so pleased with the results. The sauce has a nice bit of heat, a little bit of sweet, and a deep, rich flavor overall. It's thick and meaty and so comforting -- and it makes the house smell amazing while it's simmering on the stove. And plus, there's something so satisfying (at least for me) about preparing something and letting it cook all day long, and then getting to enjoy the results multiple times.
As the recipe title indicates, this is truly a "big batch" sauce. It uses three pounds (plus four ounces) of meat! You'll get at least two uses out of it, and it freezes really well. It fits perfectly into the "make it once, use it a few times" cooking philosophy that I've adopted lately.
One more thing: The sauce calls for the rind from a wedge of fresh parmesan cheese. I love the salty-cheesy flavor it adds to the background of the sauce. If you don't have a rind, you could stir in some grated parmesan at the end and the results would be just as delicious.
Big Batch Bolognese Sauce
4 ounces pancetta, diced
2 pounds ground sirloin
1 pound ground Italian sausage
2 large onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 green bell pepper, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
Rind from a wedge of fresh parmesan cheese
Granulated sugar, if needed
1. In a large Dutch oven, heat a layer of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until slightly crisp, then add the sirloin and sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add the onions, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Stir in the tomato paste until thoroughly coated and fragrant, then add the red wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and cook until wine is reduced. Stir in the beef stock, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and parmesan rind. Heat to bubbling, then reduce heat to medium low.
3. Cover and let simmer for 3 to 5 hours. The longer the sauce simmers, the thicker and richer it'll be. Discard the bay leaves and cheese rind before serving. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes, if needed. If the sauce is too acidic, add sugar to taste. Serve with spaghetti or anything you want.
4. To freeze, place portions of the sauce in gallon-size plastic freezer bags. Remove all the air from the bags and store flatly in freezer until ready to use.