Easier Bolognese

If you look up bolognese recipes, you’ll find that the sauce is supposed to simmer on the stove for hoursssss. And any Italian will tell you that it’s just plain wrong to use jarred sauce. But I’m here to tell you that there is definitely a middle ground. If you doctor up that sauce, you can certainly start with a jar. It’ll taste like it’s been on the stovetop all day and you’ll feel like a true Italian nonna.

Start by sautéing an onion (1 small or half of a large one) in some olive oil. Once the onion is translucent, add grated carrot. (I probably used less than 1/4 c of grated carrot.) Now it’s time for the meat. Brown a pound (or pound and a half) of ground beef in that pan. Once it’s browned, pour in your marinara sauce. Let that bubble away, along with some seasonings: garlic, dried oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. After it’s been going for a bit, add in a touch of half and half (not necessary – I just had some I needed to use up – but I do like the thickness and roundness of flavor it adds) and a glug or two of wine. I honestly think red or white works here. I happened to be drinking chianti, so that’s what I added. Real recipes would probably have you adding this earlier in the process, but I didn’t remember til the end and thought it still worked really really well. Serve over your fave pasta and top with grated parm.

I would like to point out that I was making this under quarantine conditions, meaning I wasn’t working with the highest quality ingredients. I didn’t have a legit whats-up-doc type carrot so I used baby carrots. I didn’t have fresh garlic so I used garlic powder. The marinara was probably the cheapest jar on the shelf. It still worked…and worked really well. In fact, since you’re adding extra ingredients (some fresh basil would be great, by the way) you don’t even need to bother with the fanciest brand of marinara. What this means is you can pretty much make this sauce entirely with ingredients you already have on hand. Honestly, it was probably the best meat sauce I’ve ever made.