Stop wine-ing and keep stirring!
I got my pasta machine, yay! Nothing makes you feel more like a fat old Italian lady than kneading homemade dough and cranking it through a pasta machine. I even hung the noodles on a plastic hanger to dry before cooking (washed, of course) because I was a bit concerned about the sanitary condition of the backs of our dining room chairs. Now that I’m such a pro at making the noodles from scratch, I thought it was only fitting to do the same with the sauce. Sure, I’m a master at taking a jar of Ragu and adding so many ingredients that you’d never know it started in a store… but REAL pasta sauce… holy moly that’s on a whole different level.
I found a good recipe for Pasta Bolognese (that’s the link) by Anne Burrell on the Food Network website, and luckily I had the evening off to be able to indulge in the FIVE HOUR COOKING PROCESS. Yah, that’s no joke, it truly took about 5 hours start to finish. Now I know why I generally stick to my 30 minute Pampered Chef recipes, haha. At least Ryley and I had lots of time to play in between all the pouring and stirring.
I loved the idea of using fresh vegetables as the base, but I don’t have an electric food processor. I figured it would be ok to use my blender, but discovered that the veggies simply spun around a bit and then got stuck. I added just the tiniest amount of water to get them to properly rotate toward the blades and then simply sauteed them longer to remove all the water like the recipe says. I also substituted ground turkey for the chuck/ground beef. I’m sure there’s more flavor in the beef version, but there’s a reason for that – more fat. For my family, I’d rather go with the leaner meat and honestly, it still tasted great. I did, however, pull another Heather. When I got home from the store I realized I only had half the amount of meat that the recipe called for. No problem, I thought – I like a saucier sauce with less meat anyway. OR I could just cut the recipe in half because we don’t really need 8 servings for 2 people (Ryley recently decided to be a sauceless pasta eater). All these great thoughts would have been fine… if I had just remembered that I’d had them. When the time came to add the wine, all memories of half-recipes and meat shortages went out the window and I poured 3 full cups of wine into only 1 1/2 pounds of turkey. Frankly, I was more upset that I wasted the wine I COULD have been drinking, haha! Even worse, I didn’t use one like Two Buck Chuck, it was actually a decent wine! I didn’t have any cheap wine on hand like I thought I did, plus I used a cup or so from an old opened bottle since I figured it wasn’t really drinkable anymore. Thanks to the BevMo 5 cent sale, I simply opened the same wine again to finish the recipe. Too bad I wasted about half the bottle on my booboo.
I rushed over to Google and searched for ways to fix my boiling pot of wine soup, and got so many answers that I basically used all of them (and even some of my own ideas). So, I chopped some fresh tomatoes because I couldn’t find any more paste or stewed in the pantry, I added lots of sugar, threw in more water, and snipped tons of extra fresh herbs including all the Italian ones I could think of that were not in the recipe. I even took the final piece of advice that I read online and started drinking the remainder of the wine so as not to care so much about how my sauce would turn out, and I think that was the best suggestion of all! With the combination of quick-fixes and simply letting time and simmering do it’s magic, it actually came out quite delicious, in spite of the fact that it probably couldn’t still be considered “bolognese.” Still slightly heavy with deep wine flavors, but Jeremiah loved it’s heartiness – and I simply drowned mine in freshly grated parmesan cheese!!
Overall, it was a success, and we now have enough sauce to take a bath in (so I’m sure you’ll see future posts including the leftovers). I was quite proud of my completely authentic dinner, and even though it took half of my life to cook it, the fullness of flavor was so drastically different that I’m pretty sure we’ll never go back to bagged noodles and jarred sauces. Unless I’m feeling lazy, of course.