Quick and Easy Bolognese (No really, I swear!)

Earlier this year, when one of my very good friends, Sara and her husband Anil, gave birth one of the cutest little girls ever (I'm a very proud "Aunt"), I told her to pick a night and I'd come over, groceries in hand, and make a giant dinner with plenty of leftovers to freeze.  Last night was the night Sarah took me up on my offer and with my groceries in tow, I left my Small Boston Kitchen and headed the 2 miles down the road to their place where I whipped up my own version of a quick Spaghetti Bolognese.
I'll stop right there because I know what you're thinking because I'd be thinking the same thing too if I had read that last line, "a quick Bolognese".  Although I will agree that the flavor of a good Bolognese takes time, I've found that if you slow cook the sum of all parts, you'll still end up with great results.  I also cheated a little by purchasing some fresh spinach pasta from Whole Foods but  from start to delicious finish, this took me about an hour and a half to make.  And that includes about a half hour of just letting the Bolognese simmer on the stove.  To help explain how to create your own Bolognese, I'm going to take you through this process step by step:

* One of the best parts of a Bolognese is the fact that you can change it up and add different ingredients based on your liking and what you have leftover.  With this version, I would have loved to put in some chopped up mushrooms but Sara isn't a fan of the 'shrooms.  For a more traditional approach to this sauce, you could add in bits of carrots and add a touch of cream or even some Mascarpone cheese to give it a creamier texture.  Really, sky's the limit here folks.  Get creative!

Also, I should note that this made a giant pot of sauce which I would recommend.  It's perfect for freezing, making weeknight dinners even easier.

- 1/2 of lean ground beef
- 1/2 ground pork
- 2 large cans of good quality whole tomatoes in sauce
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 2 red peppers, roasted and finely chopped
- A couple splashes of beef/chicken/vegetable stock
- 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- A couple of splashes extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- A couple of very generous handfuls of fresh basil, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pasta (I recommend using fresh pasta if possible but of course, any type would work)
- Side salad to serve alongside

Check out the instructions by clicking the link below:

1. Start by heating a some extra virgin olive oil in a pan on a medium heat setting
2. Add the onions and a couple pinches of salt to help them sweat a little and get soft.  Let the onions go.  Don't fuss with them too much or they won't cook.  Just stir them every 5-7 minutes or so just to make sure they cook evenly.  The trick is to really let the onions get soft.  It will provide that "I've been cooking all day long flavor and texture".
3. Once the onions have really softened, add the minced garlic and let it cook and get soft.  Keep an eye on the pan once you add the garlic.  It can burn quickly and burnt garlic will ruin the whole dish.  When you start to see the garlic slightly brown, add the meat and break it up into little bits.  Add another couple pinches of salt and a little fresh black pepper.
4. At this point, you may want to turn up the heat a bit so that the meat will have the chance to brown a little.  Just keep stirring it every couple of minutes so that everything gets moved around and can cook easily.
5. Once you start to see the meat brown a little, add the tomato paste to the meat mixture and turn down the heat to medium.  Throughly combine the meat with the tomato paste and let that cook for a couple of minutes.
6. While the meat and tomato paste mixture is simmering, take some kitchen scissors and roughly chop the whole tomatoes by simply sticking the scissors in the cans and chopping.  Add the tomatoes to the meat mixture and stir to combine.
7. Add a couple splashes of beef/chicken/vegetable stock (this will help accentuate the flavor a bit) and stir to combine.
8. At this point, cover the sauce and let it go for as long as you'd like.  Just check in on from time to time and give it a stir.  The longer you let it go but you could totally dig in after about 1/2 an hour of simmer time.
9. At about 10 minutes before serving, add the chopped up basil.  This will ensure that the basil stays a nice vibrant green color when you serve it.  You can also add some fresh grated Parmesan to the pot and stir that all together.  Salt and pepper to taste.
10. Serve the sauce over pasta with extra Parmesan on the side and with a side salad or some crusty bread to mop up all the sauce.

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