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IMG_2474I have never been good at homemade pasta sauces. Until I found the crockpot Bolognese recipe it was all Ragu all the time in this house. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Pasta sauce just seemed . . . elusive. Like something i couldn’t quite get because I’m Norwegian and Polish. And then one day I checked out My Father’s Daughter from the library (despite my dislike for Gwynnie Paltrow) and she’s all making pasta sauce and I thought well hell, if she can, I can.

No, this isn’t her recipe. It’s Ina Garten’s recipe. Because I like Ina. You can tell she

Also makes a good spoon rest. In case one of your kids broke the lovely polish pottery spoon rest you had.

actually eats. Anyhow, I saw her make this whilst scrubbing dried up cheerios from the inside of a cereal bowl and I thought “YES! That is totally a recipe I can conquer. AND IN JUST 30 MINUTES” I highly recommend you make the crockpot Bolognese. But I recognize maybe you don’t want to do all the chopping or maybe you don’t have room in the freezer for buckets of sauce  or maybe you have a job and other things to do. SO. Just try this recipe. I like the fact that it’s easy, it’s completely adjustable to your families tastes and it has a hearty dose of wine in it. And a note on the wine, it’s says use a dry red but I may have once used a dry Riesling with fantastic results. You will be able to taste the wine, so you have to make a judgement call, but don’t be afraid to try what you have on hand.

Weeknight Bolognese

  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin (or ground beef! who is gonna know?)
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup very small diced onion or shallot (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat olive oil over medium and brown meat. Get a nice brown color on it. Add the garlic and onions and red pepper flakes and cook 1-2 minutes until just soft. Do not brown the garlic. Yuck.
  2. Add 1 cup of the wine and use it help scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. Add the tomato paste and let it warm up for 1-2 minutes so that it will combine better. Then add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and then bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. To finish the sauce add the nutmeg, cream, basil and rest of the wine. Let simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Toss with freshly drained pasta and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Eat.
Do you have to use San Marzano? Heck no. Use what you can find and what you like. This can is a little pricey, but unfortunately I think all other canned tomatoes taste, well, like can. These never seem metalically. I have been told that the Safeway organic brand is also good.

Do you have to use San Marzano? Heck no. Use what you can find and what you like. This can is a little pricey, but unfortunately I think all other canned tomatoes taste, well, like can. These never seem metalically. I have been told that the Safeway organic brand is also good.

To get those fancy thin strips of basil, stack the leaves together and roll them up. No comments please on my rolling technique...

To get those fancy thin strips of basil, stack the leaves together and roll them up. Then slice diagonally. No comments please on my rolling technique…

If you can afford it or find it, get the fresh basil. The smell in your kitchen alone is worth it but it really brings the whole thing together. And yes, you can substitute parsley if you want to. I'm not telling.

If you can afford it or find it, get the fresh basil. The smell in your kitchen alone is worth it but it really brings the whole thing together. And yes, you can substitute parsley if you want to. I’m not telling.

I'm about the messiest cook ever. As much as I wish my husband were home more, it's really a good thing he isn't here to see all the mess that occurs for a little 30  minute meal.

I’m about the messiest cook ever. As much as I wish my husband were home more, it’s really a good thing he isn’t here to see all the mess that occurs for a little 30 minute meal.

Nice, right?

Nice, right?

Here's a secret. I made this sauce one afternoon while Jane napped so I could have the kitchen to myself. I'd already had lunch. I ate an entire bowl of pasta and drank a glass of wine. At 2 in the afternoon. SCANDALOUS.

Here’s a secret. I made this sauce one afternoon while Jane napped so I could have the kitchen to myself. I’d already had lunch. I ate an entire bowl of pasta and drank a glass of wine. At 2 in the afternoon. SCANDALOUS.

Yeah, those are bowtie noodles. Special request from my kid. And if she'll eat it, I'm buying it. This isn't a restaurant folks, it's just a moms kitchen. And this mom needs her kids to eat.

Yeah, those are bowtie noodles. Special request from my kid. And if she’ll eat it, I’m buying it. This isn’t a restaurant folks, it’s just a moms kitchen. And this mom needs her kids to eat.

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