Gnocchi Bolognese

Gnocchi with BologneseIt’s that time of year when all things light and fresh and green start making their way onto our plates. I’m not quite sure if it’s a celebration of spring or a slight panic that swimsuit season is around the corner. Either way, I’m not complaining – I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the smoothie recipes and salad art. Seriously, some of the salads popping up on food blogs lately are stunning…almost too pretty to eat! (Yes, I had to make an entire Pinterest board devoted to salad). Our recipe today doesn’t fall into any of these categories – it isn’t light or summery, but it is rich, tasty and satisfying. And you could definitely serve it with one of those pretty salads…or just garnish with some fresh basil. Here’s Tim with the details!

Gnocchi with BologneseDo you have one of those favourite foods that you have to get every single time you see it on a menu?  Us too – I tend to order anything with bolognese and Shannon will ALWAYS order the gnocchi. 

The key to a good bolognese is milk.  Yes, milk.  Apparently there are enzymes in milk that help breakdown the protein in the meat (or something to that effect).  This makes the sauce more homogenous and you don’t get little hard ground beef nuggets mixed with tomato sauce.  Give it a try, you’ll see what I mean.

Bolognese Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil

2 slices of pancetta or regular bacon (don’t use maple bacon – I’ve done it by accident), chopped

1 large onion, diced

3 carrots, diced

4 celery stalks, diced

2 cloves of garlic, diced

2 lbs. lean ground meat (blend of veal, pork and beef – or just beef)

1 cup white wine (like a Chardonnay)

2 cups milk

1 large can whole tomatoes (the big one)

1 cup beef stock

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of butter

parmesan

Put your  largest and heaviest pot on medium high and add the oil and bacon.  Cook until crispy, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove the bacon or pancetta from the pan and leave enough oil/fat to coat the bottom.  Add your onion, carrots and celery and lower the heat to medium.  Cook until softened, about 12 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove all the vegetables from the pot onto a plate. 

 Turn the heat up to high.  Make sure you still have a decent amount of fat or oil on the bottom of the pot.  If it looks dry, add some olive oil.  Add your meat, a little at a time (usually in 2 to 3 separate batches).  Do NOT stir it all the time!  You are trying to get some serious browning and if you overcrowd the pan or stir the meat all the time, this will not happen.  Browning = delicious.  When all the meat has been browned, add all the meat back into the pot and reduce the heat to medium.  This is the real browning stage, you want this to begin to stick to the bottom of the pot – keep an eye on it.  After about 8 minutes, add your vegetables and bacon back to the pot.

 Add the wine and let it reduce to nothing.  When you add the wine to the pot – start scraping the bottom of the pan.  Try to get all the goodness off the bottom of the pot.  Once the wine is reduced, add the milk, tomatoes and stock. 

 Reduce the heat to a simmer and partly cover.  Simmer for at least 3 hours.  Have a taste.  Add you salt and pepper.  This sauce likes salt and pepper, so don’t be timid – but taste after each addition.  Finally add the butter in and stir. 

Serve with your favourite pasta and top with parmesan.  Enjoy!

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Gnocchi with Bolognese