Bolognese Bowl

Today is a fabulously beautiful fall day and I am sitting by the fireplace with a big smile on my face.  I just poured myself a glass of Chardonnay (hey- sometimes a girl’s gotta have a little mid afternoon libation after working 70 hours a week for the past month….!) and am so excited about my impending dinner. What will I be making? Well, I’ll tell you the ingredients and we’ll see if you can guess…. Ground pork, ground veal, ground sirloin, pancetta, mirepoix (come on now, you know what this is! Onions, carrots, celery. Equal amounts.), tomato paste, white wine, whole milk, thyme, fresh parmigiano and a whole lotta fabulousness.
I know the suspense is killing you. Right? Well, if you were  thinking Bolognese you were correct (and should reward yourself with, I dunno, maybe a piece of chocolate. Or a glass of wine!) And rather than serving it over pasta, I have some white beans soaking right now that I am going to sauté with some sliced garlic and wilted spinach and serve the sauce over that.
Hell yes. Now that is the best fall comfort food dinner ever. Oh! Don’t forget about the delicious Bordeaux I’ll be drinking with it…… yep. Big smile….Happy fall darlings.
Bolognese over Garlicky White Beans and Wilted Spinach
gluten free, egg free, soy free

Serves 5-6
  • ½” slice pancetta or 3-4 pieces bacon, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • ½ lb. ground veal
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground sirloin
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • at least ½ cup white wine (or red, to be honest I’ve used both and it turns out delicious either way. So use whatever you have on hand!)
  • at least ½ cup whole milk (yes, it HAS to be whole)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • chopped parsley or basil, if you want
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • fresh parmigiano-reggiano
  • white beans (you can soak your own dried I usually start with about ½ cup dry-SO much better!) or you can use canned cannelini if that’s easier)
  • 2-3 cloves sliced garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3-4 cups chopped spinach
    1. Render the fat from the bacon or pancetta by placing in a cold pan (choose a decent size, this is the pan you’ll be making the sauce in) and warming over low heat.  Once you have a nice sheen of rendered fat remove the pancetta or bacon with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel.  Save for garnish later (yeah!).
    2. Add the carrots, celery and onion and continue cooking over low heat until softened (the name of the game her is low and slow…you don’t want ANY browning). Remove using a slotted spoon once softened and onions are transparent, this should take about 10 minutes.
    3. Add all three ground meats to the pan and cook, breaking up occasionally with the back of a spoon. Cook until there is no more pink showing.  Add the vegetables back in to the pan and add the tomato paste.  Stir to coat, add a hefty pinch of sea salt and then add a nice gulp of wine to the pan.  Stir one to mix and then let it hang out on its own for awhile, covered, until the wine is almost all absorbed into the meat and veg (this might take awhile, 15-30 minutes or so… depending on how patient you are!).
    4. Add the sprigs of thyme and then add a nice hefty drink of the whole milk, making sure you add enough to almost coat the meat and veg.  Again, stir once to mix and then cover and let cook until the milk is absorbed (yes, again, the lower heat you can cook this on the better. So if it takes 45 minutes awesome! But if you are impatient or need to eat, like, immediately (only because it smells sooo good!) you can raise the heat and it will be done in about 15 minutes.
    5. Meanwhile, you can prepare the beans, garlic and spinach.  In a large nonstick sauté pan, pour in a nice layer of olive oil.  Add the beans and let sit in one single layer.  Strip the leaves off the thyme sprig and sprinkle over the top.  Let it sit and cook over medium heat until you have a nice browned layer of beans (8-10 minutes) flip beans using spatula and cook on the other side for a few minutes.  Remove from pan.
    6. To the same pan add a touch more oil and then the slivered garlic.  Cook over low heat 3-4 minutes just until garlic becomes beautifully fragrant and then add the spinach and cook, turning with tongs until just beginning to wilt then remove from pan to stop cooking.
    7. When ready to serve your amazingly delicious dinner, put a nice spoonful of creamy browned beans on the bottom of your bowl, a nice sprinkle of sea salt, then the garlic wilted spinach, then a hefty spoonful of velvety Bolognese deliciousness and top off with a nice amount of freshly grated parmigiano.
OMGeeeeee. You will be so happy you have this recipe in your repertoire now, trust me. I know it might seem like a lengthy recipe but after you make this once you’ll realize how easy it is! It’s also a great sauce to make a few days before you know you want to serve it because the flavors will only become more pronounced and lovely after it’s been hanging out in the fridge for a few days. Mangia!