Weeknight Bolognese

*Apologies in advance for the two gratuitous Ina jokes embedded in this post.*

And so friends, we’ve reached the blog post in which I show off my husband’s culinary skills.

Skills I didn’t even know he had until Valentine’s Day.  Let me state for the record (yes, again) that my newest pleasure in life is watching someone else cook.

After a day of perusing all 6 of Ina’s volumes, my husband settled on weeknight bolognese, because Valentine’s Day fell on a Monday when we would both be working, and getting up for work again the next morning, and because pasta is my absolute favorite food.

When I was a kid, we had spaghetti for dinner at least once a week.  My mom would brown some ground beef and dump in a jar of Prego, and that was how we did meat sauce.  When I took my first bite of Ina’s bolognese (which Italians would never call bolognese because the sauce to meat ratio is high), I was taken right back to my childhood table.  I could say this is like jarred spaghetti sauce, with the volume turned up.  How easy is that?  The flavors are one notch richer, with the additions of the red wine and ground sirloin instead of ground chuck.

And yet, it’s not overly heavy, and it doesn’t take hours to simmer.  Weeknight Bolognese.  Amen.

You will need:

  • 2 TB good olive oil, plus extra to cook pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin
  • 4 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 TB dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 ¼ cups dry red wine, divided
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • Kosher salt & black pepper
  • ¾ pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells (
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

It’s helpful to start the water boiling for the pasta right away, as the sauce cooks quickly.  Pour the pasta in when the sauce has 10 minutes left to go.

Heat the oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook until the meat is no longer pink.  Add 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 T salt, and 1 ½ tsp pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Finish the sauce while the pasta cooks. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining ¼ cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl.  Ina recommends combining all the sauce and pasta, but that would have been too much for us.  We stirred in the 1/2 C of Parmesan, and spooned the perfect portion onto our pasta.  The upside to this is that more of this sauce is sitting in the freezer, ready to go during a busy week.

We also ate our fave roasted asparagus for dinner.  And though I offered to think of something for dessert, my husband doesn’t really have a sweet tooth, so my everything I suggested was vetoed.  It’s for the best, as I had no room left at the end of the meal anyway.

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