February 23rd, 2010


Valentine dinner this year was a simple affair. We wanted to stay in because it was cold out, it was a Sunday, and I wasn’t feeling well. Besides, homemade meals just taste a little bit better than a plate from a fancy restaurant. There is that whole business of having to wash dishes afterwards but those can wait until the next day. We chose a simple menu of Bolognese sauce on angel hair pasta, French bread, and a Tarte Tatin (recipe to come later). I meant to make a spinach salad with a balsamic dressing too but I absolutely forgot all about it. It wasn’t really missed. Note that this recipe will make a ton of food. You will be having delicious leftovers for days, or you can feed about 5-6 people. This sauce is a labor of love because it takes a while for it to cook, approximately 2-3 hours.


Olive oil
Mirepoix: diced onions, celery and carrots
5 cloves of garlic, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork or veal
3 lbs tomatoes, chopped, or two cans of whole tomatoes
1 ½ cup wine
1 ½ cup milk
Basil (preferably fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese
2 packages of fresh pasta

In a large pot, heat up some olive oil on medium heat. Throw in the mirepoix and let it sweat for a few minutes. When the onions become translucent, throw in the garlic. Mix mix mix.

Dump all the meat into the pot, beef and pork. Some recipes call for ground veal so use that instead of the pork if you got it. We opted not to use it because veal is a little pricier, and I just feel bad eating it. It reminds me of that Simpsons episode when Lisa goes vegetarian. “Leeeesa, I thought you loooooved meeee.”

Anyway. Let the meat brown. There is a lot of meat so it will take a while but do not skip or rush over this part. It is important! Browned meat is good meat. Season with salt and pepper.

When the meat looks good and ready, shove in all the tomatoes you’ve got. Three pounds sounds like a lot but they disintegrate to almost nothing but juice by the time this is done, so don’t be shy. Canned is fine too, if you don’t feel like getting tomato juice all over your chopping board. Chopping up that much tomatoes can be a pain but to me cutting up veggies is a little cathartic, so go with what you feel like.

Pour in the wine. Take a little swig for yourself. Go ahead, I won’t tell anyone, you lush.

Pour in the milk too, but make sure it is warm first. Don’t go pouring in cold milk into a hot pot. It’ll curdle and get all gloopy and disgusting.

Bring it up to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Leave it uncovered. Now the waiting game starts. You have to wait and let the sauce reduce. It is still worrisomely watery at this point but walk away and knit or something. Seriously. This will take a while.

Check on it a couple of times and stir it up a bit. Skim off the glistening layer of oil that comes to the surface but don’t go crazy. We’re not trying to diet here. Obviously.

Set your Delorean to 3 hours ahead and now we have a gorgeous sauce. Put in some salt and pepper. Our professor-chef tells us to keep adding salt and pepper to enhance the flavors; once it stops enhancing the flavors, stop adding stuff. I know that sounds like a bunch of nonsense but I promise it will start to make sense when you cook regularly. It means season a little at a time, then taste, then season some more if you need to. Don’t put in too much because in cooking, you can always add but it’s harder to subtract. Put some basil in there. Dried is fine but fresh is better. My fresh basil withered away, booo, so I had to use the dried stuff. Just another reminder to start on an herb garden.

We bought some fresh pasta for this occasion. You can find it refrigerated in your local grocery, usually near where the cheeses are. You can use the boxed stuff but if you’re going through all the trouble of making a really good sauce, you might as well spring for some fresh pasta too, right? They’re not all that expensive anyway, at about $2 a package. Plus they take 60 seconds to cook. For realz. You dump them into boiling water and by the time you sing ABCs three times, they’re ready to come back out. You have to sing it loud though. It’s in the cooking directions. At the top of your lungs is better.

Okay, are we hungry yet? Here you go. Serve with love. And French bread. And wine.

PS: I know that it’s been a long time since Valentines. I meant to post this sooner but a lot of stuff happened between now and then… including our engagement. :) I’ll try to be better about posting regularly now that that’s out of the way. 😉

Posted under Beef, Pasta, Pork

7 Responses to “Awesomesauce”

  1. good choice on not eating baby animals.

  2. is this mom’s recipe. i wanna make! also, baby animals are dee-licious! i have baby seal, baby polar bear and baby otters on my list! mwehehehhe 😛

  3. Mmmm…..sounds yummy…..

  4. I made almost exactly the same for Valentines day (though my sauce went into a lasagne), I am interested in your use of milk, may have to try that next time. Oh and congratulations by the way!

  5. @Ate Daph – This isn’t mom’s recipe. I think she uses tomato paste which gives it a little more acid and tartness. I will try that next time. Mine came out pretty mellow in flavor.

    @Emma – I’ve seen a few Bolognese recipes that use either heavy cream or milk, just to give the sauce a little more body, but I’ve seen plenty of recipes that don’t use either. Let me know which version you like better, I’d be interested to know. And thanks! :)

  6. 1) Congratulations on your engagement, belatedly! Got to this log through HE, so I squeed at the related comic.

    2) Do you have rough measurements on the mirepoix? This looks absolutely ridiculously awesome, and my parents are growing tomatoes and basil in their garden this year. I’m just horrible at eyeballing quantities so I have no idea how much veggies that is!

  7. Thanks for stopping by, RSue! For the mirepoix, it’s usually 50% onions, 25% celery and 25% carrots. I think for this recipe I might have made too much mirepoix to be honest! I would go maybe half a large onion or an entire small one, half a celery stalk and half a carrot. make sure to try to chop them all about the same size so that they cook evenly. Let me know how you like it once you make it!