Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Spaghetti Bolognese

The joys of comfort food. Nothing beats good pasta, especially a nice bowl of it in the dead of winter. Although it does not have the same status as Chicken Noodle Soup, the cold cure, it's actually full of very similar ingredients (minus the chicken and plus the beef and tomatoes). So, my conclusion is that it is pretty healthy, as long as you buy very lean ground beef. Plus, it's nice to eat on a cold winter evening with some friends and perhaps some red wine.

Spaghetti Bolognese
Serves approximately 4-5 people for dinner

2 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 medium red onions, finely chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
salt to taste
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf (optional)
2 cups red wine
1 lb lean ground beef
1 can tomato paste
2 small cans of tomato sauce or 1 large can
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 package of thin spaghetti (I use whole wheat)
Parmesan cheese to garnish

I started by cutting up my bacon, and putting it to the pan on a medium heat. You want it to be fully cooked before you add in any other ingredients. While the bacon browned, I roughly chopped the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and then put them into my Cuisinart food processor and chopped then finely.

Once the bacon was browned, I added the olive oil and all of the chopped veggies and garlic to the pan, and sweated them until soft. I also added the salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes and bay leaf at this point. I stirred it occasionally so that nothing stuck and burned. Once everything was tender and soft, I added the red wine. Then I turned up the heat and cooked off the alcohol.

Once all of the liquid had evaporated, I added the tomato paste. I had to stir constantly to make sure I didn't burn the tomato paste, but I did this so that some of the acidic taste cooked off. After a minute, I added the ground beef which I broke up in the pan and browned. Finally, I added the tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes. Then I let it simmer, basically until I had to serve it (the longer you can let it simmer the more the flavors meld together and the more delicious it is!). I had it on a low flame for about an hour and a half, and stirred it approximately every 10 minutes.

I served my pasta al dente. When the pasta was cooked I put it into the simmering pasta sauce and stirred until it was mixed in well and had cooked with the sauce for a few seconds. I served it in bowls with an ample handful of Parmesan cheese and some fresh ground pepper on the top.

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