Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bolognese Sauce.

aka meat sauce.

I've discovered that many people don't make homemade spaghetti sauce. There is clearly nothing wrong with this, but having grown up eating homemade sauce, I just assumed everyone did the same.

Spaghetti sauce is so easy to make, and by making it at home, you're guaranteed to know what exactly is going in to the sauce. I thought I'd share a recipe with you all that I grew up eating.

There are many variations to spaghetti sauce... with or without meat, with or without vegetables, with or without wine or beef stock, etc.

For this recipe, you can add or subtract whatever you like. I generally like to throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand - it's a great way to use up aging veggies, plus you get an added vegetable in your diet. My favorite vegetable in sauce is mushrooms, but I didn't have any at the time of making this particular batch. Instead, I had a zucchini and carrot on hand, so I used those.

Also keep in mind that you can use any type of ground meat you like. Traditionally, meat sauce is a combo of ground beef and pork.  Today, I'm using ground bison, because Andrew and I have enjoyed eating it out here in Cheyenne... it's a lean red meat but still full of flavor.

So let's begin. First off get your ingredients: tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (with or without seasonings), tomato paste, 1 pound of ground meat of your choice, and any vegetables you'd like to include.

Start by browning up the meat on medium-high heat.

Add in a medium sized diced onion.

While the meat browns, prepare your vegetables.  I like to use a cheese grater for my carrot and zucchini.

*Note: if you are using a ground meat that requires you to drain off the fat once it is browned, be sure to do that before going any further.

Next step is to season your meat with salt and pepper. A fine dusting of both will do.

Once the meat is browned and seasoned and your veggies are prepped, add in the vegetables.

Allow the veggies to cook down for a minute on medium heat. Then add in your paste, sauce, and diced tomatoes.

*Note: if you can find tomato paste in a tube, I recommend that because you won't use as much (just a couple of tablespoons will do in my opinion). I couldn't find a tube of tomato paste, so I used half a can of paste and it was still a little much. In this case, if you over do it on the paste, I suggest adding in a little water.

The last thing you need to do before you let the sauce simmer away is add in about a 1/2 to a whole tablespoon of Italian seasoning (if you don't have Italian seasoning, just add in equal parts of basil, rosemary, and thyme).

Once everything is blended nicely, set your stove to low heat and allow the sauce to simmer for at least 25-30 minutes. Be sure to check on the sauce from time to time and make sure it isn't burning on the bottom.

*Note: spaghetti sauce is even better the next day once the spices can soak into sauce. Try making the sauce a day in advance and reheating it right before serving.

Before serving, I like to add in a fistful of fresh herbs that I have on hand - generally basil or parsley.

Then the sauce is ready to serve!

I like to top the sauce with a cheese like parmesan. 

Bolognese Sauce 

*Sauce can vary according to what ground meat and veggies you have on hand. This recipe reflects this post. 

1 lb. ground meat
1 medium sized onion, diced
1 medium sized carrot, grated
1 small zucchini, grated
1-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2-1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/4. cup freshly diced basil or parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese to top

Brown ground meat on medium-high heat. Add in diced onion. Drain meat if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in prepared vegetables. Let veggies sweat for a couple of minutes. Add in tomato paste and blend. Pour in tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Last but not least, sprinkle in the Italian seasoning. On low heat, allow sauce to simmer for 25-30 minutes. Right before serving, stir in fresh herbs. Top with cheese, if desired.

If you have a small family like Andrew and me, and you don't use up even half of the sauce in one meal, store the remaining sauce in the fridge for up to one week or freeze for up to 2 months. 

*Variations: Ground meat - beef, chicken, turkey, sausage, or a combo of beef and pork. 
Vegetables - mushrooms, spinach, squash, carrots, celery, broccoli, bell peppers, etc. 
Stir in a cup of red wine or beef stock for more depth in the sauce. 
Vodka sauce - stir in 1 cup vodka and simmer until sauce reduces and alcohol cooks out. Pour in 1/4 c. room temperature whipping cream or half/half and a handful of grated cheese.

Enjoy your homemade sauce!

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