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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: Bolognese

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010



The very word brings a delicious shiver to my spine and gets my mouth a-watering.

There are about as many variations on the recipe for bolognese as there are days in the year on which I'd be happy to eat it.  That's a lot.

The variation I most often employ was introduced to me by Anne Burrell on her Food Network show "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef".  I was so intrigued by the recipe that I had no choice but to try it myself.

Seriously.  It was fated.

Since then I've pretty much started eyeballing a few of the ingredients and adjusted here and there to suit my tastes.  If you would like to start from scratch, though, check out the original recipe here.

Let's get started, shall we?

What IS that, you ask? That, my friends, is a poorly-taken picture of around 2 lbs of browned ground beef.  I really should start using my actual fancy shmancy camera for these pictures.

In Anne's recipe she calls for the beef to be browned with the veggies.  As Hall and Oates once stated, I can't go for that.  Why? Because I prefer to get as much fat out of the sauce as I can, wherever possible.  So I brown the beef first and drain it.  Then I rinse it.  This process may lose me some flavor, but it saves me a rumbly tummy later on.  Yeah, I just went there.

While my beef has been browning, I've been dicing three celery stalks and grating two onions and three carrots.  Why grating? Because I prefer this sauce without big bits of veggie in it, and my mini food processor broke.  Please, send me money for a new one...or just a new one entirely.  I'm in dire need.

Once the meat is out of the pot and I heat a coating of olive oil in the bottom, the veggies go in, along with four crushed garlic cloves.  I could easily put more in there because, well, I love garlic.  But Rob's not as devoted to garlic as I.

Now is the time to be patient because the vegetables need to brown.  Literally brown.  And it takes a while.  In my world, on medium high heat, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes.


Once your veggies have browned, dump all that meat back in...


...along with 2 cups of tomato paste.  At least, Anne calls for two cups.  I generally put in about 12 - 16 oz.  To each their own.

The tomato paste should then be incorporated into your mixture and, again, browned.  Anne is very big on this browning thing.  It's where the flavors develop.

In case you couldn't tell yet...this smells good.


Now it's time for some vino.  I have made this bolognese with and without wine, depending on whether or not I have it on hand.  I can honestly say that I love it just as much either way.  But, if it's on hand, I go for it.


I don't really measure the amount of wine I put in - probably around 2 cups.  Enough that when you stir things around you can see the wine.  Then I let it simmer down until the wine is about halfway evaporated.

While the wine is evaporating away, it's time for thyme!


I looooove thyme.  This recipe is the one that introduced me to the joys of thyme.  I take a pretty decent bundle of it and make a bouquet.  Mmmm, it's so fragrant!


Once the wine is around half evaporated, toss in that thyme bouquet.

Sprinkle in a generous amount of parsley.  I like parsley.  It adds color.


Salt the living heck out of it.  Trust me.  I use Salt Sense since it's lower in sodium, but kosher salt of course works well too.  Either way, season the sauce well and check it as you go along.

I normally use 2 dried bay leaves, but since I had fresh on hand, I used 4 this time.

Then, add enough water that you end up with an inch of water above the meat.  For me, that's about 4 cups.




I generally like to then scrape around the bottom of the pot to make sure it's been thoroughly deglazed.  Once that's finished, let the sauce reduce until it is nice and thick, generally about an hour to an hour and a half.  Then, add 3-4 cups of water again! Again, let it reduce, and you're ready to eat as soon as you remove the thyme and bay leaves.  Enjoy!

This is possibly my favorite sauce of all time.  And the smell will linger the rest of the day.  To the point where, when you go to the ER later that night because of a scary looking bug bite and you're getting married in 6 weeks and don't want to take chances, the doctor will ask you if you ate Italian food for dinner.  And you'll realize that you're wearing the shirt you cooked and ate in and that there are practically stink lines radiating from you, that's how strongly you smell of bolognese.  And you'll blush and say "Yes".

But that never happened to me or anything.

Linking to:



Blogger Steph @ somewhatsimple said...

I should not have checked this site at lunch time! I want to eat my computer!!!

January 14, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Blogger MrsJenB said...

Hahahaha I've made the same mistake many, many times so I feel your pain. But I take it as a compliment! :-) Thanks!

January 14, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Blogger Heather@ said...

Great recipe! Thanks for linking up with Talented Tuesday!

January 19, 2010 at 3:20 PM


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