Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Creamy Bolognese Over Spaghetti

When it comes to pasta, what makes the dish - the pasta or the sauce? Some may say that the pasta makes the dish and a good pasta can compensate for a lacking sauce. Others may say that the sauce makes the dish and a stellar sauce can elevate any bland pasta. For me, I’m leaning towards the sauce. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I don’t indulge in fresh pasta as often (much less find gluten free fresh pasta) so the sauce is what helps me turn any regular {gluten free} noodle into something great. With this in mind, I set out to make one of my favorite pasta sauces – Bolognese. However, I think I messed up… in a delicious way.  Even though this sauce didn’t come out exactly as intended, it was certainly good and I’m tucking this Creamy Bolognese sauce for another day I’m craving comfort food…

I had so much fun with last month's Moms Crazy Cooking Challenge food blogging event that I decided to participate again for March. This time around, the theme is 'spaghetti with red sauce' so this Creamy Bolognese was a perfect sauce to pair with spaghetti.

Mistakes aren’t all bad. In fact, good things can come out of mistakes! When I set out to make this Bolognese sauce, I substituted half and half for the milk called for in the original recipe.  And in the process of my substitution, I used a little too much by accident. The sauce is a bit time consuming in that the recipe involves adding liquids at separate stages and allowing them to cook down. First, it’s the milk (or in my case, half and half) that’s cooked down almost completely… then it’s sweet white wine that’s cooked until evaporated. Finally, the tomatoes and its juices are added before simmering for hours. When I first added the half & half, I didn’t exactly cook it down as much as I could have so as a result, the sauce  had a creaminess and lighter color. After simmering, the use of half & half made for a rich sauce. I made a double batch and used some for a lasagna and the rest to serve on top of spaghetti.  This Creamy Bolognese is a nice variation on the traditional!

Creamy Bolognese over Spaghetti

recipe adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
3/4 pound ground beef chuck
3/4 pound ground pork
1/2 teaspoon salt + more to taste
2 cups half & half
1 1/2 cup dry white (sweet) wine (I used Vognier)
2 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, packed in juice, chopped fine, with juice reserved
3 tablespoons tomato paste

Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat, until it begins to foam. Add onion, carrot, and celery and sautè until softened but not browned.

Add ground beef and pork, crumbling it in and add ½ teaspoon salt. Cook while breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking the meet until it loses its raw color but not browned.

Add half & half and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk reduces down to 1/4 - 1/2 cup, which takes about 25-30 minutes.

Next, add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, which takes about 25-30 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a slow cooker; add tomatoes along with reserved juices and tomato paste. Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

Adjust seasonings and add taste to taste. Serve over your favorite pasta or use in other pasta dishes.

The sauce freezes well and the recipe can easily be halved.

Please check out all these amazing spaghetti & red sauce recipes made by all the food bloggers participating in 'Moms Crazy Cooking Challenge' this month! Don't forget to click on your favorite looking dish and cast your vote!