Am I the only one who felt like this week should have ended two days ago? Winter in New England has finally settled in. It's cold, it's dark at 4:30 pm, and the magical snow from last weekend is now streaked with dirt and mud.
I've been craving bolognese this week, I'm not sure why. There's a restaurant down the street from my house that makes a great one. It's hearty and flavorful and really warms the soul. Every day I plan on trying to convince bf to go for dinner, but by the time I get home from work, I don't want to go out and face the world again. So as I was leaving work yesterday, I made the decision to make bolognese instead. I know what you're thinking- how can you make bolognese after work? Isn't that like an all day, can't leave the stove, Sunday kinda thing? The short answer is...yes...normally. This one however comes together in 45 minutes, and it's just as good as if you spent all day. So here it is, Ina Garten's Weeknight Bolognese.
This came together so quickly, that I actually didn't get that many photographs, so I'll walk you through as best I can. First gather your ingredients, I bet you already have most of these things at home:
I know that looks like a lot of ingredients, but if you take a close look, except for the garlic and basil leaves there's zero cutting or chopping, you're mostly opening cans and adding.
Add the olive oil to a pan and brown your meat in it until there's no more pink. This should take about 5 minutes or so, maybe a little longer. Once the pink is gone you add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Ina recommends rubbing the oregano between your hands as you add it to release the oils, so that's what I did (because Ina is always right). Stir it for about a minute and then add one cup of wine to deglaze and get all the brown bits up. Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once boiling, simmer for 10 minutes. I'm not going to lie, at this point I was skeptical, the sauce didn't look like much, certainly not a hearty bolognese. I have faith in Ina though so I decided to wait it out before calling for takeout.
While that's simmering, in a separate pot, bring water to a boil and add salt and a splash of oil. Cook your pasta according to the directions. I would recommend cooking aldente as your going to be adding hot sauce to it later so it will continue to cook a bit after.
Okay, back to the sauce, add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the rest of the wine and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remember how the sauce didn't look like much? This is where the magic happens, after that 10 minutes the sauce was rich, hearty, and flavorful. That extra bit of wine was transformative and really added a robust flavor.
Strain your pasta, put it in a big bowl and add the sauce on top. Add the cheese and toss it all together...that's it! The whole thing takes less than 45 minutes. The sauce has a warm heat without being overpowering and the tomatoes have a nice sweetness, the wine and the spices round out all the flavors.
Funny story, this was actually the first dish of Ina's that I made and the first time I attempted to cook for bf. We had just started dating and I had this idea that I was going to make this great surprise Sunday supper. I went and got all the ingredients, and I have NO idea what I did but it took me hours, I mean the extent of my cooking skills at that point in time were browning beef and adding taco seasoning. I'm not sure why it took so long but it did. I tried to use the recipe as a "guide" and add my own flare. I had no clue about portions at that point and had doubled the recipe (seriously, I thought that it should be like a box of pasta...per person!) and added some other spices that didn't work, in short, it was a disaster. I learned that day that it's okay to follow recipes. I brought that up as we were happily gorging away, and he had no memory of it. I'm thankful for my improved cooking skills and bf's short memory.
I happy to report this time this recipe turned out splendidly, and I encourage you to try it the next time you want some hearty goodness in a pinch! Have you ever had a cooking disaster?