There are some gifts of time which are sweet. They’re the ones you box up and carry with you to share with friends. And then there are the savory ones, the ones that become meals. Rich, full, belly-rubbing ones that make those at your table linger a little longer.
These are the kind which require extra plate sopping bread, the breathe a little deeper and ask for seconds when you’re full kind.
For me, Bolognese anything, makes a meal like this. A rich, meaty sauce, it’s made in such bulk it begs for freezer safe containers. That makes it all the better. There’s always a go-to winner, one that’s versatile for any meal. Throw this sauce on pasta and you have lunch. Coat a chicken breast with it and you have dinner. Simmer a few eggs in it and, voilà, breakfast.
Originally, I read about Bolognese in a foodie novel called The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. When I couldn’t stop thinking about it, when I realized I was compulsively looking at Bolognese recipes, and drooling over meat sauces on restaurant menus, I picked up some ground beef and ground pork at the market. Over the last few years, this sauce has evolved. Gone is the cream (recommended in my fiction book). It has since been replaced by the entire bottle of wine (rather than just half) and two additional meats.
When you head to the store, don’t be surprised by the seemingly large price tag. This makes roughly eight, four person meals.
Serves 32 (or 4, 8 times)
1 pound bacon
4 TBS olive oil, plus more as needed
3 large onions, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
3 TBS dried basil
3 TBS dried rosemary
3 TBS dried oregano
3 TBS dried thyme
1 TBS chili powder
½ TBS cayenne powder
½ TBS dried chili pepper flakes
12 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground lamb
2 12-ounce cans tomato puree
1 bottle red wine (a robust one like a cab or a Malbec are ideal)
In a large stockpot, brown bacon.
Note: You might need to cook it in multiple batches.
Remove bacon and set aside. Drain grease and wipe pot clean of excess brown bits. Add olive oil, 2 onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté until veggies are very tender.
Add basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, chili powder, cayenne powder, chili pepper flakes, and 10 cloves garlic. Sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute).
Transfer bacon and vegetable mixture to a food processor. Add a ½ cup chicken stock and process until smooth, adding more stock as necessary.
Note: You might have to do this in two batches.
In your stockpot, brown beef, pork and lamb. Drain fat. Stir in vegetable puree, remaining chicken stock, red wine, and 1 12-ounce can tomato puree. Bring to a simmer and allow to reduce until thick (3 – 4 hours).
Divide Bolognese into 8 equal portions. Freeze 7 portions for later. Sauté remaining onion until soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add 1 portion of the Bolognese base and 1 12-ounce can of tomato puree. Stir to combine.
Use sauce as desired.
(For frozen portions: defrost, sauté onion until soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add defrosted sauce and 1 12-ounce can of tomato puree. Stir to combine and use as desired.)
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