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Hearty Bolognase – Easy Italian Comfort Food

19 Feb

Sooo, this isn’t Vietnamese. But everyone loves a big, steaming bowl of hearty, meaty pasta, right? We had leftovers for lunch today so I needed a change of pace. As much as I love the freshness and healthy qualities of Vietnamese food, I still crave good old-fashioned carbs from time to time.

One of Thuan’s guilty pleasures is Pizza Hut Tuscani Meaty Marinara pasta. One of my guilty pleasures is to make those dishes at home even better so he forgets about them. Bring on the Bolognase.

Quick and Hearty Bolognase

This recipe would easily serve 6 or even 8. For us, we made two bowls + two lunch portions and two two-serving freezer packs. Get it? Start to finish the meal took 45 minutes.

1 package ground Veal, Pork and Beef mixture (ours was about 1.22 pounds)

1 small red onion diced

2 carrots grated

4 cloves garlic

6 halves sun dried tomatoes diced

Worcestershire Sauce (10 good shakes)

1 cup red wine

1 small can tomato paste

1 large can San Marzano whole tomatoes (this one has basil, but any whole canned tomatoes will do)

Italian seasonings – oregano, parsley, basil, bay leaf to taste

1 tbs or so Fish Sauce

Salt & Pepper to taste

I lost my grater in the move, so took a peeler to two carrots and then chopped in to smaller pieces. See what fun this can be?

Expeliarmus! Fun with vegetable peelers.

Expeliarmus! Fun with vegetable peelers.

To easily chop the onion, cut it in half and leave the ends attached. Cut in to the onion length-wise without cutting all the way to the end. Then turn and chop cross-wise. How easy is that?

Chopping onions with ends attached

Chopping onions with ends attached

In a heavy bottomed pot (I use a well-seasoned cast iron), warm a few tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat and toss in grated/shredded carrots and onion, stirring to cook through. Then add chopped garlic until fragrant. Add the chopped sun dried tomato and stir to mix well. Move the vegetable mixture to the edges of the pan to make room for the ground meat to brown without interference.

Vegetables cooked, ground meat ready to brown.

Vegetables cooked, ground meat ready to brown.

I usually add the tomato paste before this, but hadn’t yet opened the can so skipped ahead. Once browned, move the meat and veg mixture to the perimeter and add in the tomato paste, spreading to get nice and warm and then mix well with your dried herbs – any combination of varying amounts will do, this is really to taste. Now you’ll add in the liquids. Start with 10 good shakes Worcestershire sauce, 4 shakes (about 1 tbs) Fish Sauce, 1 cup of red wine (I used a Cab Sauv left over from the Housewarming) and then the canned whole tomatoes.

Fish Sauce. The ultimate accompaniment.

Fish Sauce. The ultimate accompaniment. Try it, you might like it!

Once the liquids are all combined and bubbling, boil your pasta. Let bubble uncovered to evaporate the excess liquid and concentrate the flavors. Taste periodically and add additional Worcestershire (I cannot spell this word to save my life…), salt, pepper, etc.  By the time the pasta is finished, you’ll be ready to serve the Bolognase. Smash the whole tomatoes if they haven’t already burst in the pan. We like to use Rotini or Rigatoni for big sauces to best grab hold of the meat. For these dishes I skip olive oil on the pasta and let it dry out to hold the sauce better.

Serve with Parmesan and a nice warm, crusty bread to sop up the extra sauce. Instant joy.

Rigatoni Bolognase

Dinner is served.

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