Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese
I love pasta! And every kind of pasta sauce there is!!
Bolognese is a thick meat sauce, but this recipe uses less meat then other recipes because I sub it with chopped mushrooms (my kids hate mushrooms but they inhale this sauce-hee, hee, they have no idea, because the texture is the same and I save money on using less meat.) This recipe makes a big batch of red sauce so if you like you can freeze half for a quick fix meal latter on.
Sauce Ingredients:
extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. pancetta slab (non-smoked bacon), diced into small pieces or 4oz. thick slices of bacon, diced.
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, minced
1 celery rib, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carton or 2 small cartons of sliced button mushrooms; chopped into very small pieces (buying the pre-sliced saves you time in not having to slice them before dicing them).
1 1/4 pound extra lean angus beef
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup dry Italian red wine or beef broth
1-6 oz. can tomato paste ('Hunt's' Basil, Garlic & Oregano flavored)
1- 66 oz. 'Ragu' traditional old word style pasta sauce (we don't like big chunks of tomatoes in our sauce so if you want them you can use 'Prego' sauce or your favorite brand instead)
1/2 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar or Agave nectar
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
2 Tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
2 small packages of spaghetti
2 Tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups (divided) shredded parmesan cheese--1 cup for pasta toss and 1 cup reserved for garnish
  1. In a large dutch oven over  high heat, add about 1 Tablespoons of olive oil and the pancetta, cook until pancetta is brown and crispy turning down the heat is it gets to hot. Set cooked pancetta aside on a paper-toweled lined plate.  In the same dutch oven add little more olive oil and add the onion, carrot, and celery; cook stirring often until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Transfer to a plate. Add a little more olive oil to the dutch oven and add the mushrooms, cook until the liquid is rendered from the mushrooms and they are reduced in size. Transfer mushrooms to the vegetable plate.
  2. Add a little more olive oil to the dutch oven and add the beef breaking it up. Leave the meat alone until it is browned on one side (don't let it burn-reduce heat if needed), then flip over the broken pieces, break it up more and cook until other side is browned.  Add the cooked pancetta, vegetables and a generous dash of kosher salt and cracked black pepper back into the browned meat and stir until mixed.
  3. Next add the red wine or beef broth, italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds, turn up the heat until the liquid starts to simmer, cooking out the alcohol and reducing the liquid by more than half.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, then add the 'Ragu' sauce, fresh parsley, balsamic vinegar and sugar and stir until mixed, bring the heat to a simmer (do not boil), add lid if the sauce is sputtering a little. Simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally-or as long as it takes to cook and prep the pasta. (check it often, don't burn the bottom with high heat, keep the heat low). 
  5. Stir into the sauce the 2 Tablespoons of butter right before serving (glosses and adds richness to the sauce).
Pasta directions:
  1. In a large pot cook the pasta according to the 'al dente' directions on the package, in salted boiling water. Drain; and set on serving platter or large pasta bowl.
  2. Add the butter, olive oil and 1 cup of parmesan to the hot pasta and toss with two forks.
Ready to serve:  Plate the pasta on individual dishes and ladle the thick sauce over the top.  Garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.  Great with garlic bread too!!


Creamy Potato-Cheddar Soup with Bacon

Creamy Potato Cheddar Soup with Bacon
This soup is amazing! Comforting! And just the thing for a cold day filler!! 
Also this soup is a "miracle soup".  Like the fish and loaves that Jesus fed to the masses, this soup 'miraculously' turns into more than what you first set out to make-Let me explain: When you store the left-overs in the fridge, the soup binds and thickens, so when you take it out the next day, you must add more milk to it, to thin it out to it's original creaminess, thus making more volumes of soup!! 
1-large white onion, chopped into small diced pieces
3-large baking potatoes, peeled and diced into bite size pieces, set aside in a bowl and cover with cold water to prevent browning.  (I like to use the baking potatoes because the larger size is easier to peel and you only have to peel 3 instead of 6-8 medium size potatoes)
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 stick of butter
1 small clove garlic; minced
6 Tablespoons of flour
2 Cups Whole Milk
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (tillamook)
cooked crispy bacon, diced (optional garnish)
fresh chives, snipped (optional garnish)
fresh parsley, chopped (optional garnish) 
  • In a large pot add 6 cups of water, to that add the chopped onion and the drained, diced potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat until potatoes are fork tender.
  • Once the potatoes are done, turn off the heat and do not drain the water, this is your soup base! Season the potato-onion soup base with the kosher salt and black pepper.
  • In a medium sauce pan, on medium heat melt the stick of butter then add the minced garlic, stir for 30 seconds, add the 6 Tbls. of flour and whisk for 1-2 minutes (don't let the flour-butter mixture turn brown or burn, remove from heat if color is changing too fast). Whisk in the 2 cups of whole milk into your butter/flour combo, let it cook whisking constantly until it starts to thicken then add it to the large pot of potato-onion-water, turn the heat to Medium Low and stir the soup until it thickens, if it starts to boil, turn down the heat--do not burn the bottom of your soup. Once the soup is thickened, remove from heat.
  • Next stir in the 3 cups of cheese, until melted. If the soup is too thick add more milk.
Serve the soup with diced bacon, chopped parsley and/or chives.
    Let soup completely cool, before storing left overs in the fridge.  When re-heating soup the next day, add more milk to thin out and add more salt and pepper to taste.