Weekly Winner: Easy-Breezy, Boozy, Beautiful Beef Bolognese


Ah, Beef Bolognese.  What more needs to be said? Without a doubt, it is one of my favorite labor-intensive, slow-cooked comfort foods.  Generally it is not for a weeknight dinner.  Until now.  Until one of my all time favorites, Ina Garten, came up with this Weeknight Bolognese.  I have to admit that I was skeptical.  I knew coming from Ina, that the pasta would be good. Beef, wine, pasta, cheese — how could any of this be bad?  But would it stand up to a true Bolognese??  There was only one way to find out.

First of all a word of warning:  You’d better be a fan of red wine if you try this dish!  It borders on downright boozy!  Because the sauce cooks rather quickly, the wine never really has a chance to cook out.  But don’t get me wrong — I liked it!  It was a great, complex, deep sauce without all the fuss and day-long  commitment.

Seriously, I think I’ve spent more time writing this post than I did making the dish!  So without further ado, here’s the recipe which comes from Food Network Magazine.  One note about the picture — you may notice two different types of pasta.  Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you decide to clean out the pantry and consolidate.  Don’t judge.  It worked.

Weeknight Bolognese

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra to cook the pasta
1 pound lean ground sirloin
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Procedure:
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

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