easy weeknight meal for party of adults and kids?
Here is an easy and very good bolognese. (I would add some minced pancetta to the recipe.) The cooking time is long, but you can be doing other things while it cooks and you can also make it a few days before, say, on a weekend, and have it ready. I usually double the amount and freeze it.
Also, a great idea for kids/family would be to make this sauce, and then bake it in a casserole with penne, lots of parmesan and either a béchamel or, to make it easy, some ricotta. Just boil the pasta until it is about halfway done (say, a pound of penne), then toss it with the meat sauce, ricotta or white sauce and cheese, with a sprinkle of cheese on top. (You could layer it, too, but this is a weeknight recipe, so just toss it all up and bake it.) Baked pastas like this are great as you can prep them early, then just stick them in the oven when needed. They freeze well, also. Serve with a nice green salad with a good vinaigrette and you are set.
Classic Bolognese Sauce
Don’t drain the pasta of its cooking water too meticulously when using this sauce; a little water left clinging to the noodles will help distribute the very thick sauce evenly into the noodles, as will adding an extra 2 tablespoons of butter along with the sauce.
Makes 3 cups, enough to sauce 1 pound pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons minced carrot
2 tablespoons minced celery
3/4 pound meatloaf mix or 1/4 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
(28 ounce) can chopped San Marzano tomatoes and juice
1. Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot, and celery and sautè until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add ground meat and 1/2 teaspoon salt; crumble meat with edge of wooden spoon to break apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.
2. Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with an occasional bubble or two at the surface, until liquid has evaporated, about 3 hours. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste and serve. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days or frozen for several months. Warm over low heat before serving.)