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Auntie Val’s Bolognese

My sister Sam graciously shared with me her fabulous mother-in-law’s recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese.  I love to plumb the depths of my family’s in-laws’ recipe archives in the hopes of finding hidden treasure.  I’m still hoping that I’ll get my other sister’s boyfriend’s mom’s secret family recipe for bread-and-butter pickles someday.  Hee hee.

I normally don’t follow a recipe when I make spaghetti bolognese, and this recipe has me convinced that henceforth I should.  Normally, I just saute some onions, peppers, and random vegetables, throw in a jar of pasta sauce and call it a day!  After all, the joy of pasta is that it’s E-A-S-Y, right?  Well, even though Auntie Val’s bolognese recipe IS a recipe, it’s just as simple and quick to prepare as any pasta sauce, and tastes GREAT!  Putting a little extra thought into this simple dish that we often take for granted takes it to the next level.  I love how Auntie Val’s ragu is simmered with bay leaves, which lends a savoriness and meatiness to the sauce that you associate with hearty stews.  A glug of white wine gives it depth, and a few teaspoons of sugar, while unexpected, really make the flavor pop.  Interestingly, Auntie Val’s recipe doesn’t use jarred pasta sauce, just a tin of tomato paste.  I would never have thought it, but somehow it works.  Of course, if you can’t conceive of bolognese sauce without tomato sauce, feel free to add some, or add a splash of pasta water to thin out the sauce if it’s too thick.

Auntie Val’s Bolognese Sauce

1.5 lbs ground beef
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp sliced pimento-stuffed olives
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp white wine
1 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp white pepper
dash of Tabasco sauce

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in saucepan. Saute onion and garlic until softened.

Add olives and beef, saute until browned.

Add tomato paste, ketchup, wine and spices. Add a splash of water if sauce is too dry. Simmer over low heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve with pasta.

It’s as simple as that!

3 comments to Auntie Val’s Bolognese