Look away, purists.
I say that a lot, because I don’t want to offend anyone by, say, putting capers in my Bolognese, or mushrooms in my Bulgogi.
But here in the Bunker, if I’ve got bits and bobs in my fridge that need to be used, and would enhance the flavor? Well then all bets are off.
I mean, I’m not purely one thing, so why does my cooking have to be? I’m Scottish, Native American, and probably 100 different nationalities that I don’t really know about.
Anyway, here’s my multi-faceted Bolognese, which gets very high marks in my household…
And those glorious noodles hiding shyly from view? HOMEMADE PAPPARDELLE.
Absolute heaven. The flavor, the texture, but even more, the process of making those noodles was the real treat.
It’s sensory love from the very beginning.
I have no pasta maker, so I made the dough, let it rest, and then rolled it out piece by piece, and cut it all by hand. The Hub was there, watching, and we were both drinking a gorgeous red wine from California. It was pure bliss.
I’m sure the noodles turned out way thicker without the pasta roller. So I might be ordering one of those today.
Here’s the thing: I really cannot digest pasta. But for some reason, I had no problem with this stuff.
Was it because I spent 10 whole minutes kneading the stuff? My arms look great!
Did I earn the right to enjoy this pasta by working so hard for it? Or is there something about the processing of dried pasta that does me in every time?
I would HAPPILY make fresh pasta once a week for the rest of my life. In fact, I plan to!
And did you know you can freeze the stuff? INCREDIBLE!
But back to the glorious sauce.
Here’s the recipe…
STEP 1: In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, Start with some Italian sausage (you can also use ground beef, turkey, bison, even mushrooms! You just have to season whatever you use to make it taste like sausage ~ fennel, oregano, pepper, etc). Brown the sausage and scoop it out and right into a food processor. Blitz until you get nice little pieces. Place it in a bowl and start the next step.
STEP 2: Into that same stock pot, get your veggies on! 1 large sweet onion, chopped (or two small ones). Add some olive oil and let those onions really develop some flavor and color. Salt as you go. Then you can add any other veggies (maybe you’re trying to hide some veggies from your kiddos? They’ll never know!) ~ I used garlic, carrots, and a sweet potato, which adds such great sweetness. I also added a package of dried mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water, and saved the liquid for later.
Cook all those veggies down, and add a splash of balsamic vinegar or red wine to the pan, to help those leftover sausage bits up from the bottom of the pan. YUMM.
This whole step takes only about 5-8 minutes. Scoop it all into the food processor and blitz this too. We want little bits of heaven all throughout our sauce.
STEP 3: Now is the time to add it all back into the pan, and throw in the tomatoes. I always use San Marzano tomatoes, and right now, Costco has HUGE school cafeteria-sized cans of these amazing tomatoes. I used a whole, large can to make this sauce. San Marzanos are always available at any grocery store, and usually on the bottom shelf. They are 100% WORTH THE MONEY. (This is also when I add the rehydrated mushroom liquid in. That stuff is magic.)
STEP 4: Time for seasoning! Salt, pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, the leftover rind of a block of Parmesan, you name it. I added a cinnamon stick, too. I also added capers, and one anchovy that needed to be used. It just melted right into the sauce and made everything taste salty and amazing. No fishy taste ~ I swear.
This all sits on the stove for at least 30 minutes, but it can cook all day if you’d like. Just put the lid on and enjoy the aromas until dinnertime.
This is all a little wordy, but after you read what to do, you get the picture ~ meat, then veggies, then tomatoes, then simmer. And there are no measurements. Do you actually think you could put in too much Italian sausage? Not possible!
Go crazy and enjoy getting rid of straggling leftover in your fridge! Unless you have an Italian grandmother standing over you, saying, “PLEASUH NO CAPERSUH INUH THE BOLOGNESE!”
My sassy little grandmother would just be so proud of me that I’m cooking at all.
Love to you all, from my Bunker, to yours.