Putting the ME in MEATSAUCE

HEEYYYY INTERNET! How’s it going? I just ate some meatsauce (is that not one word? well, i want it to be, so it is here), so I am doing pretty well, if you couldn’t tell. Now I want to share it with you, because I like you. I know, 2 savory posts in a row, such craziness! And this one with–gasp–meat! I never post anything with meat. Were you under the impression that I am vegetarian? Because…I am not. I know, it’s bad for the environment to eat meat. I KNOW. I knowwww. Listen, I recycle and I bring my own shopping bags and I shop in bulk to limit my packaging waste and I buy local whenever possible and I re-use my yogurt containers as tupperware. So maybe just give me a little bit of a break about the meat thing, ok?

bolognese sauce 1

Because I don’t eat meat all that often, mostly because I am never really sure what to DO with it. I’m not a huge chicken fan, and while I love a good steak, I was apparently not born with the skills to not mercilessly overcook or undercook or ruin in general steak every time I try to make it. Because I am incompetent. For example:

bolognese sauce 2

Yeah, that is my recipe. Burned. You see, I was balancing the stirring spoon precariously on top of my measuring cup, and then I hit it with my elbow, which knocked it over and sent my recipe flying into the burner. And then I didn’t NOTICE it immediately, until the flames were literally shooting off the stove, and I was all AAH! AAH! AAAAH! acting like a mad woman, doing the exact opposite thing they teach you in those elementary school fire safety lessons, which is to stay calm and assess the situation and then react. But you know me, I’m literally running around in circles screaming FIRE FIRE FIRE for like 2 minutes before I decide to try to blow the thing out. But I swear this piece of paper was made from the remnants of trick candles, because it took a solid 5 or 6 blows to extinguish it. So THAT WAS EXCITING.

bolognese sauce 3

Also to be filed in the THAT WAS EXCITING category: using fresh nutmeg! It’s so pretty! And I have no idea if it made any difference at all in the flavoring of the sauce (that kind of thing is way beyond the sensitivities of my palate, which really just has 2 flavor differentiations: Like and Do Not Like, and there is only 1 food item that registers under Do Not Like and that is broccoli raab, and HE KNOWS WHY) but it was REALLY FUN to grate, so you know, score one for this recipe.

bolognese sauce 4

Really the only complaint I have about this recipe is that it takes a loooong ass time to cook the sauce. But if you’re like me and you have zero Saturday evening plans, then you can prepare this sauce and let it simmer while you watch whatever movie is on TBS (the pursuit of happyness) and by the end of the movie you’re pretty much done and, although you’re the same planless-on-saturday-loser that you were before the movie, you are NOW a planless-on-saturday-loser WITH MEATSAUCE. A very important distinction.

bolognese sauce 5

Have we talked about how unattractive it is to photograph ground beef? Forgive me, ground beef. You have a lot of really amazing qualities, qualities this sauce in particular really enhances, but on the photogenic scale of things, you sit somewhere in the bottom rung, roughly between me and vomit.

bolognese sauce 6

But looks aren’t everything, meatsauce. And I love you despite yours. And I never really know what to say here to convince you to make any recipes on this blog. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter, and like every other recipe I’m all THIS IS THE BEST EVER, YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT, so by now I’ve lost all credibility. But, gosh, I mean it this time. This is the best bolognese sauce I’ve ever had (disclaimer: never have been to Italy so you can stop. right. there. you, who were going to write me all oh my goshhhh this sauce is nothing compared to this sauce i had once in bologna at this really cute authentic off-the-beaten-path non-touristy hole in the wall place owned by the woman from strega nona and they were so nice and i had aammaaaazing wine and for dessert we had espresso in teeny cups because the americans have it alllll wrong and you’ll never be able to recreate that amazing sauce i had on that amazing month-long backpacking trip with my boyfriend who looks like gregory peck and oh did i tell you we stayed at a youth hostel and it was so AUTHENTIC and we really got to see the REAL italy, you know, not like all the touristy spots and oh man that bolognese sauce was just divine because god loves the cows in italy better because of the pope and all so i really think you need to go to italy and try that sauce.  YES I KNOW I NEED TO GO TO ITALY. DO YOU HAVE A THOUSAND DOLLARS AND A SPARE WEEK? BECAUSE I WILL TOTALLY GO TO ITALY, OK?!?!?! GOD)

Just make it.

Bolognese Meat Sauce
from Marcella Hazan via Emily Weinstein via Bitten

•    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
•    3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
•    1/2 cup chopped onion
•    2/3 cup chopped celery
•    2/3 cup chopped carrot
•    3/4 pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
•    Salt
•    Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
•    1 cup whole milk
•    Whole nutmeg
•    1 cup dry white wine
•    1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
•    1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta
•    Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

1. Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.
2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
3. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating — about 1/8 teaspoon — of nutmeg, and stir.
4. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

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