This is the ultimate comfort food for me – both to make and to eat! The flavorful, steaming sauce full of rich herbs and spices combined with the hearty ground meat always gives me a sense of continuity and reliability in this world. Maybe that’s silly – but it’s true! Since my family doesn’t live near me, this is the next best thing to a hug from my mom, especially when I cook it in the Le Cruset pot she gave me!
This is recipe is so easy to make, and if you start ahead of time you can let it simmer on low heat, partially covered until dinner time. And, you can make a ton because it’s even better leftover. I also add in some unconventional spices, but you can choose to omit those or change it up depending on what’s in your pantry.
Yield: ~4–6 Servings (3 for a very hungry crowd) Ingredients: 1 Yellow Onion, small (1/4’’) diced 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced 1 Pound Ground Bison (you can use any protein you like, beef, half beef half ground pork, etc.) 1 each 28oz Can Pureed Tomatoes (I like the San Merican Tomato brand) 2 Tbsp Oregano 1 each Bay Leaf 1 tsp Cinnamon 1/2 tsp Nutmeg 1 tsp Red Chili Flakes 1 tsp Thyme 1 Tbsp Fresh Basil (or 2 tsp dried) Salt & Pepper To Taste 2 Tbsp Butter (Optional) 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream (Optional) I like to pair this dish with Chianti Classico from Italy, whenever I have it on hand I will add about a 1/4 cup to the sauce 20 minutes before I take it off the stove to serve. I’ll also serve that same bottle with dinner. Optional: Method: 1. Start by cutting up your onions and garlic. 2. Heat up both a large saute pan for your meat and a pot for your sauce; both on medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of each. 3. When the pot is hot, add in the onions and garlic. When the saute pan is hot, add in the meat. Stir and break up until cooked through. 4. When onions turn translucent, set heat to medium-low and add in herbs and spices. Stir to incorporate with the onion and garlic. Then add in the tomato puree. Puree should be sticking to the sides on the inside of the can, fill halfway to 2/3 with water and carefully swirl to remove some of it. Put the flavored water in the sauce as well. This will thin out the sauce, but if you let it simmer for an hour or two, it will eventually evaporate and thicken. Consequently, this helps prevent the sauce from drying out and burning while cooking. 5. Once the meat is cooked through, take off the heat and strain fat into an empty milk carton, a glass bowl, or anything besides your kitchen sink drain. Once the grease has cooled, dispose of that in the trash. Return the meat to the pan and set aside, off heat. 6. After the sauce has been simmering for a good 15–20 minutes, add in the meat and stir well. 7. Set stove to low, cover the pot partially, and let the sauce come to a light simmer. Stir every so often so prevent scorching in the bottom of the pot. Cook for as long as you can (up to 3 hours) on the lowest setting your stove has. If you don’t have that kind of time, only cover the pot half-way and turn up the heat to the second-lowest setting. Stir more frequently in this case. 8. 20–30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, add in the red wine if using. Turn the burner for your boiling water on medium-low to get your water going for the pasta. 9. 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat, turn the water burner up to high to get a rolling boil. Boil your pasta. I like to use Cappello’s Gluten-Free Fettuccine, but you can use whatever you like. At this time, also add in the butter and heavy cream to finish your bolognese sauce (this will turn the sauce a beautiful orangy color instead of bright red). Happy Cooking!