Purists may want to take a seat. I’ve done a lot of tampering with this seemingly classic Italian dish.
Some of the changes were from necessity, and others pure whim. I’ve made a pork version of this a few times, the sweetness of the marsala wine being a natural compliment to the flavors of the pork from Flying Pigs Farm. Yes, you read correctly—I used marsala wine in this bolognese sauce, casting aside the requisite red wine.
Since my remaining jarred tomatoes from last year’s harvest were packed with basil, I had to think fast. A few squirts of double-concentrated tomato paste went above and beyond the call of duty. It added a vibrant blast of tomato, and thickened the sauce very nicely too.
Perhaps the best news about this recipe is it’s 100% kid-approved. I made it for a friend recovering from surgery and her 3-year-old daughter whose tendency to shun food is the source of many “budding supermodel” jokes ate an entire serving. So, regardless of what you think about my bastardization of a beloved classic, you just have to trust me on this one.
What’s Cooking at In Jennie’s Kitchen:
serves four, or enough to dress 3/4 pound of pasta
Don’t cast aside the parsley as mere garnish here. This herb doesn’t get the credit it often deserves and really adds a fresh pop of flavor with each forkful.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound (16 ounces) ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (112 ml) Marsala wine
2 tablespoons double concentrate tomato paste
1 1/2 cups (337 ml) water
Fresh chopped parsley, to serve
Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and, using the tip of fork, mash it down to nicely browned—you want to a form a crusty caramelized look to the bits of beef.
Add the onions to the pan and saute until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato paste, making sure there are no lumps. Slowly stir in the water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce simmer to a gentle simmer. Arrange lid on top of skillet so it is slightly ajar, and cook for 20 minutes. Serve with pasta or over polenta and sprinkle with parsley.