The Dish: Pasta Bolognese Three Ways
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
When cookbook author Claire Tansey asked us which recipe we wanted to feature from her new cookbook, Dinner, Uncomplicated, for the launch of Trinket, I'm not even sure my brain had a chance to think it through before my mouth (and perhaps my stomach) said, "Bolognese." And this isn't just because pasta is my apocalypse food choice (you know, "if you only had access to one food for the rest of your life..." Yes, I'm fine with scurvy. Kidding—you can put vegetables in pasta! This recipe proves it!). It's also because Claire happens to be my bestie, and I've sampled so much of her incredible cooking over the years, so I know this recipe is tops. I make it at least a couple of times a month and freeze in portions to use in the ways outlined below, plus a few of my own. Which may or may not include just eating it with a spoon.
Make a batch. I swear, you'll thank me (and Claire!) later.
Easy Classic Bolognese
Prep time 30 minutes | Ready in about 90 minutes | Makes about 12–15 servings
1 tablespoon butter
2 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, very finely chopped
2 carrots, very finely chopped
1 kg lean ground beef
450 g ground pork or veal
2 cups whole milk (see Tip)
1 ½ cups dry white wine
2 156-mL cans tomato paste
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Piece of fresh whole nutmeg (optional)
1. Melt the butter in a very large, wide, deep pot over medium high. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 7 minutes. Add the beef and pork and cook, stirring often, until the meat is halfway cooked, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the milk and bring to a boil (the mixture will look all wrong at this point but don’t worry!). Simmer about 8 minutes, stirring to break the meat up into very small bits.
3. Whisk the wine and tomato paste together, then add to the pot along with the salt and about 10 gratings of nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture simmers very gently (just a few bubbles popping on the surface every second). Simmer like this, stirring every now and then, for 1 hour, or until the sauce is deep red and very thick.
4. Cool completely, then package into 2-cup portions in freezer bags. Pat down the bags so they lie flat (this speeds up freezing and thawing) and freeze for up to 2 months. To use, thaw in the fridge overnight then gently reheat with a splash of water and bring to a simmer.
TIP: It’s important to use whole milk here, which tenderizes the meat and makes the sauce mysteriously creamy. Fresh nutmeg is also ideal for this recipe.
Look for whole nutmegs in bulk stores or bigger super- markets, then grate them on a rasp as needed. If you can’t find any fresh nutmeg, skip it.
Looking for a great gift idea in the cooking category? Claire's cookbook is all kinds of awesome. The recipes are easy and delicious, and the book is chockfull of great tips and advice for every level of home cook.
Cook 225 g rigatoni in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot along with 1/4 cup butter. Turn the heat to low and stir until the butter melts and coats the pasta. Add 2 cups Easy Classic Bolognese, reheated, and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water. Stir until the pasta is coated with the sauce, adding a bit more reserved cooking water if needed. Serve sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan. Serves 2 to 3.
Bolognese Squash Bowl
Cut 1 medium-sized round squash (such as buttercup) into quarters. De-seed, then brush with canola oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400°F on a parchment- lined baking pan for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Gently heat 2 cups Easy Classic Bolognese with 1/4 cup white wine or water until piping hot. Spoon over roasted squash. Top each one with about 3 table- spoons ricotta. Serves 4.
Claire's Ultimate Lasagna
Prep time 45 minutes | Ready in 1 ¾ hours | Serves 9–12
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups milk
¼ teaspoon salt
12 lasagna noodles
5 cups Easy Classic Bolognese
2 cups grated mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan
1. Make a béchamel: melt butter in a medium pot over medium. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, then gradually whisk in milk. Cook and whisk until thickened. Stir in salt and about 5 gratings of fresh nutmeg. Reserve.
2. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling salted water until barely tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Rinse the noodles with cool water until cold.
3. Combine Easy Classic Bolognese with the reserved pasta water. Spread about 1/2 cup of the béchamel across the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with 3 noodles lengthwise (they will be too short for the dish, so just place them in the centre). Top with
1 more heaping cup of bolognese mixture. Top again with about 1/2 cup béchamel, then 3 noodles. Repeat the meat-béchamel-noodles layers, finishing with béchamel. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
4. Remove the foil and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 15 minutes, or until bubbling and golden here and there. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.
Excerpted from Dinner, Uncomplicated: Fixing a Delicious Meal Every Night of the Week by Claire Tansey. Copyright ©️ 2020 by Claire Tansey. Photography by Suech & Beck ©️ 2020. Reprinted by permission.