Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Jeliciousness: Mrs. B's Bolognese Sauce

Alison Dinerstein, entertainer par excellence, shares Mrs. B's Bolognese Sauce. -- MsW

Alison says: I was thinking about what recipe to send you and I kept circling back to my Bolognese Sauce.  The sauce itself doesn't have an exact recipe and is done so much by smell and taste.  I felt that it represented the way I mostly cook.  This was one of the first things I learned how to cook and have made it into my own over the years.  The point is to make this sauce be YOUR own.  This is the story behind the sauce......

Back in high school, when I was living in Maplewood, NJ, I had a very close friend whose name was Maryellen Butera; we called her Booty for short. That was the "Jersey" way, (how Sopranos of us!).   I loved heading over to her house on the weekends because of a couple of things.  One, they were one of the few families in town to have cable tv at the time (it had just made its debut in NJ) and the only place where we could watch MTV.  Two, every Sunday her mother, Mrs. Butera, would make sausage and peppers, bolognese sauce, cannolis, manicotti, etc.  I can still remember the smell as I walked through the front door.  One day, I asked Mrs. Butera (to this day, I don't know her first name because we always called her Mrs. B)  for the recipe and instead she showed me how to make it.  I remembered every ingredient and still adjust it to this day.  I think I love it so much because it brings back so many memories and it is so comforting but I love sharing it with people mostly because it makes me happy to do so.  Btw, Mrs. B passed away a few years ago but Booty lives with her husband and beautiful little girl in Milburn, New Jersey. 

Enjoy!  RIP Mrs. Butera........

About 2lbs of ground beef (85% lean works)
1 1/2 large cans of CHOPPED San Marzano Tomatoes (I think it is the can with the blue rim instead of the purple) or you can use a box or two of POMI (depends on how tomato-ey you like it)
Lots of garlic/crushed
1 large onion/sliced and diced
4 carrots/sliced and diced
1/2 can of tomato paste
good red wine
bay leaf
safflower oil (because olive oil doesn't hold up super well to the heat, I have been using safflower oil)
milk (optional)
a few leaves of basil, chopped

In a large pot, brown garlic, onion and carrots in a med-low heat in safflower oil.
When the onion is shiny and not yet clear and the carrots are a tad softer (don't burn the garlic), add ground beef and brown, mix completely with onion and carrots.
Add the crushed tomatoes (I like the sauce more on the meaty side, like a traditional Bolognese) so if you would like to add more crushed tomatoes, the choice is yours.  Mix completely.
Add tomato paste, bay leaf, oregano, thyme and mix completely again
salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to simmer.
Once the sauce sits for a bit, add some red wine to taste.  It is all about how YOU like it.  I also add a bit of whole milk to thicken (same thing, you decide on how much, a little bit at a time).
The longer it simmers, the better it is.  I usually simmer for couple of hours and let it sit while it is still hot on the stove with heat off.
Sprinkle with chopped basil to garnish (for aroma's sake).

Because the sauce is hefty, I like to put it over linguini or rigatoni.  A lighter, smaller pasta isn't meaty enough.  I have also used this sauce in a lasagne or a baked ziti.

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