Want to know how I spent my weekend? Besides hanging out with wonderful friends who came to visit we were also baking in the heat and jumping in the pool just to get the slightest bit of relief. Oh yeah, fall is in full swing in Arizona and blessed us with record temperatures of 109 degrees F over the weekend. My head keeps saying, "but it is fall, I want to to wear sweaters, and jeans and eat soups and stews" and my body keeps screaming "cool me off, it's another scorcher, find me the tank top and only feed me ice cream and salads". Quite the conundrum, don't you think?
So seriously, what's a woman (or man) to do when the rest of the country is begging for comfort food, and you as a food blogger have a responsibility to appeal to the crowds? You have to find a happy medium. Something that is comfort food, but also won't make you sit next to your open freezer while you eat that steaming bowl of soup. This is were one of our favorites always helps. Ragù alla Bolognese IS comfort food, but by adding a nice big bowl of salad on the side it fits the "scorcher" requirement as well.
I found this recipe a while back on one of my favorite blogs "Crepes of Wrath". If you haven't visited there, you should. Anyway, I only slightly adapted Sydney's already fabulous recipe to fit our taste and the result ended up "being on the money" as Guy Fieri would say. The recipe starts by sauteing onions, along with celery and carrots in butter. You add in some garlic and bacon, glorious bacon! This gets cooked until the bacon is slightly crisp. Ground beef is added and cooked until no longer pink. Then you throw in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and your usual Italian suspects of basil, thyme and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, some nutmeg, red pepper flakes and bay leaves. This mixture then gets a good dousing of white wine and finally some heavy cream or half-and-half (if you must). The sauce will then hang out for a good hour on your stove which will give you plenty of time to make your salad, cook your pasta and grate your fresh Parmesan (step away from the green can on this dish).
This sauce is out of this world and there are hardly ever any leftovers, but if there are, it tastes just as good if not better the second time around. The sauce is flavorful, rich and has you smacking your lips while eating it. I've served this to friends and family and everyone keeps asking for the recipe which to me always means it is a keeper recipe. I hope you'll give this recipe a try, it is one that works wearing fall gear, but also works while baking in the sun!
Ragù alla Bolognese
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I use 93 % lean)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves
1 cup white wine (don't use cooking wine!)
1/3 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 pound Pasta
Melt your butter in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Turn the heat up to medium-high heat and then add in the diced onions, diced celery and diced carrots. Cook for 5 minutes until softened then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Add in the bacon and cook for 5 minutes or so until slightly crisp. Add in the ground beef and cook for another 5 minutes or until cooked through. Add in the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, dried oregano, basil, thyme, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
Add in the white wine and heavy cream (or half-and-half) and stir. Bring the bolognese to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for an hour, stirring every so often so that it doesn't burn.
Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and add to the bolognese. Stir to combine. Serve and top with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Adapted from: Crepes of Wrath