BOLOGNESE SAUCE … and the butcher at the end of the street.


The  day was brilliant sunshine,  crisp and February cold.    Son-in-law Michael and I were discussing what to make for supper.     Toronto’s chilly  temperature called for comfort food.  Michael had a craving for  big bowl of pasta with Bolognese Sauce.    Michael, is a oenologist with more than forty years in the business.  We joke  he knows where the bodies are buried in vineyards around the world.  In fact, he probably helped bury them.    We discuss what wine we’ll cook with today, and what wine to drink with pasta dish.   The lovely thing about Michael, and his encyclopedic knowledge of wine,  he is NOT a wine-weenie.    We headed out into the cold to shop for  cooking ingredients and wine.

Our beautiful and talented grand-daughter,  Cait,  is a lawyer, working long hours.  She is also  mother-hen to her siblings, Greg, Andrew and A.J.   She and her  partner, internationally famous photographer Angus Rowe MacPherson,  conjure up family suppers with a blink of an eye.  They have a butcher at the end of their street.   Gasparro Quality Meats.    Oh that every cook should be so lucky.

Walk through the doors of Gasparro Quality Meats, and you walk into the past.  A shop where little has changed for more than fifty years.   The two Gasparro brothers work behind the big meat display cooler,  flirting outrageously with every women no matter what her age.  Papa  Gasparro, wearing very dark glasses, a rakish black cap, and discussing football scores,  scoops up just the right amount of veal and beef to grind and mix for our Bolognese sauce.

Minutes later we are in the kitchen and I ‘m  sautéing  meat,  loosing its  pink and adding it to the stock  pot of simmering San Marco tomatoes.  (the recipe is on the right, as usual).  The aroma of freshly ground meat is completely different from the supermarket variety.   It’s fragrant and sweet.  This will be the finest Bolognese sauce I have ever made.    I make a triple batch, and when I return to Vancouver Michael will have  Bolognese sauce in his freezer.   Bellissimo!

Oh by and by.  If I have given you the impression I am rather proud of my Grandchildren you are  absolutely right.  They and their amazing partners bring much joy into our life.  The  icing on the cake is our Great Grand Son Max.

It’s a chilly, gray Tuesday.  The kind of day you want a big pot of Bolognese sauce simmering away in your kitchen.    This recipe is rich with many flavours, a complex sauce that is a reputation maker.

The secret is the addition of Hoisen sauce.   Any beef dish (stew, casserole) will benefit from just adding a tablespoon or so of Hoisen sauce.  For a Bolognese sauce with a deep tomato flavour always use Italian tomatoes.  Peeled whole tomatoes are best.  If you can find San Marco tomatoes these are really splendid.  The addition of a couple of cubes of Mushroom bouillon cubes is another secret flavour enhancer.  Taste your sauce as it simmers away, add more seasoning if necessary.  Be generous and you won’t be disappointed with the results, I promise.

BOLOGNESE MEAT SAUCE  – enough to find the multitudes!

4 tbs olive oil

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground lean pork

1 onion chopped

4 nice fat garlic cloves

1 celery stalk

l carrot chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cans Italian whole peeled tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp Hoisen

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 tbsp dried oregano

2 mushroom bouillon cubes

1-3 tsp sugar

1/2 cup beef stock

Saute the beef and pork in a little of the olive oil until  the meat changes colour.  Drain off the liquid and fat and discard.  Put the meat mixture into  a large stock pot.  You are making a big batch of sauce.

The best way to chop your vegetables is using a food processor.  You want them finely chopped.  First chop the onion and garlic  and saute in a little olive oil.  Sprinkle with some salt and the onion flakes.  When the onions are translucent add them to your stock pot.

Now process the carrots and celery until finely chopped, and saute  in a little olive oil for a few minutes.  Add to the stock pot.

Add the two cans of tomatoes and smoosh the whole tomatoes to break them up.  Add the tomato paste, the Hoisen sauce, oregano and thyme, and the beef stock.  Sprinkle with a little sugar (tomatoes become quite acidic when they cook for more than 30 minutes).

Simmer for at least an hour or so uncovered.  Your sauce will be come rich and thick.

The quantities makes a lot of sauce so you can freeze portions for later use. This sauce tastes better the next day so do try and make it a head.


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