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Bastardized Bolognese

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My Egyptian house guests are arriving back here tonight, and I want to make some sort of Bolognese sauce since I have some ground beef in the house. Obviously I can't use pancetta or other pork products, though I think that wine is OK since the alcohol pretty much burns off. Does anyone have a good-tasting, non-pork recipe for Bolognese. My thought is to saute onion and carrot, add meat, brown, and then add some tomatoes and cook down with a splash of wine. A little cream later and maybe a bay leaf earlier, but I am wondering if this will be flavorful enough. I usually wouldn't add garlic to a Bolognese type sauce (yes, I know, this is non-traditional anyway, and yes, I usually make it with hand-chopped meat), but would garlic overwhelm the other flavors?

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  1. First note: it's a total myth that alcohol burns off completely. I know nothing about your guests, but if they're abstaining from liquor, especially for religious reasons, it might be disrespectful to go ahead and use alcohol. Anyway ...

    I've made mock Bolognese (and call it meat sauce for fear of incurring the wrath of the food gods) by doing similar to what you describe. Saute onions and carrots until soft, tossing in a crushed clove of garlic or two. Turn down the heat and take out the garlic (okay, that's usually because I like to eat the garlic). Add the beef/pork. A low heat will cook the meat while giving a very smooth texture (and you won't have to do much of the manual breaking apart of the meat!!). Add a bay leaf and tomatoes half way through if using fresh or 3/4 of the way through if using canned tomatoes - the bay leaf goes in in half way regardless. Add a splash of sherry vinegar at the end to brighten flavours if you want, but I would omit the cream.

    The real answer to your question, though? Garlic would not overwhelm depending on when it's added and how much.

    1. Just use beef. It will be fine. Some chicken livers would be nice. Don't use garlic. It would probably be better not to use wine. Add finely diced celery to the onion and carrot. No need to be fixated on Bolognese, which doesn’t have tomatoes anyway, just use the tomatoes and call it ragù di carne. Make sure you use enough salt. And parmigiano-reggiano.

      1. I was going to recommend something similar to MBFant except I included the wine. It's a very like a recipe from the Italian Two Easy book which was COTM recently.

        1. I have a recipe that has beef, pork and veal in it. I would say just omit the veal and up the beef and veal. As for the cup of red wine... use non-alcoholic wine and add about a T of vinegar to cut the sweetness.

          http://hecooksshecooks.com/2010/02/sp...

          By the way this recipe never disappoints.

          1. A version of "meat sauce inspired by Bolognese" I make from time to time:

            2-3 large sweet onions, finely diced
            A little finely chopped garlic if I'm in the mood
            1 lb or so of minced beef chuck or sirloin
            1 can of peeled Italian plum tomatoes, with or without basil
            (Avert your eyes here if you're finicky)
            Tomato ketchup, a good grade
            Soy sauce, a good grade
            Rice vinegar (non-sugared), a good grade, mildly fermented Japanese stuff is good
            3-4 cinnamon sticks
            Decent handful of cloves
            Couple of bay leaves or so
            Good veggie oil

            Saute the onions till it begins to brown (toss in the garlic if using just before browning)
            Dump the meat in, break up, saute
            Add the ketchup to taste, toss and saute on medium heat till the sauce/fiuid begins to brown just slightly
            Dump the can of tomatoes in (with all juices), break up tomatoes w/ spatula, stir
            Add vinegar to taste (I make this so that it has a definite 'sour' tang at the end; I use quite a bit of this sometimes)
            Add soy sauce to taste (oh, a 3-4 second pour is fine)
            Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, add cinnamon & cloves about 20 min or so in
            Simmer for an hour or thereabouts, longer sometimes
            Let rest a bit before serving w/ pasta I'm in the mood for.

            Carrots sometimes gets added in too.
            Oh, some sugar too.

            Fish the cinnamon sticks out after cooking if the sauce is going to be left around (i.e. there is a lot of leftover for another meal the next day or two or three) otherwise a "woody" taste gets added in...

            :-)