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Craving Bolognese But Don’t Have All Day To Cook? Here’s A Shortcut

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December is a busy month. And, with cooler weather all over the country, it’s also a month where we crave comfort food.

So what do you do for dinner when you don’t feel like cooking, don’t feel like ordering-in and you don’t want to microwave a frozen dinner?

I say make Bolognese. This isn’t the simmer-on-the-stove all day authentic Bolognese, but it is hearty and soulful with layers of flavor and that checks all the boxes for me. This recipe is more assembly than recipe and that makes it easy enough for even the non-cook to make, and the ingredients make sure it passes muster with more experienced ones.

I can’t take credit for the idea, that came from my friend Matt. But I have embellished his shortcut Bolognese with sautéed mushrooms and red wine and those two ingredients make it crave-worthy.

Much of the long-simmered flavor comes from using your favorite jar sauce. My friend Matt doesn’t veer from Rao’s Homemade Tomato Basil sauce.

My favorite is either Rao’s or Victoria Fine Foods Vodka sauce. I like the light addition of cream in the Vodka sauce which makes my sauce reminiscent of the original Italian method of adding milk or cream to Bolognese.

Since the sauce is already made, all you have to do is sauté the mushrooms and brown the meat and cook everything together. I love sautéed sliced mushrooms but if you want them to disappear into the meat sauce, chop them in a food processor and you won’t be able to tell the difference between the meat and the mushrooms.

Most of the time, I use a pound of lean ground beef, but sometimes I use half ground beef and half pork. If you can find Pound of Ground in your area, it’s a great time-saver. It’s a pound of ground beef that is frozen in individual clusters so that you don’t have to remember to take your meat out of the freezer and thaw it. That turns this recipe into an easy weeknight meal that you don’t have to do much planning or shopping to make.

Once the mushrooms and the meat are lightly cooked, I add 2 cups of red wine to the mixture and let it cook, reducing it slightly. I add wine to increase the depth the flavor so that it tastes like it has simmered on the stove all day.

Once the meat and the mushrooms are infused with the red wine, I add the jar of sauce and let that simmer for five-to-ten minutes while the pasta finishes cooking. You can use the sauce to top any of your favorite pastas—and it’s just as good on top of spaghetti squash—but I am partial to spaghetti or tagliatelle.

Grate a generous amount of Parmesan Reggiano cheese on top and you’ve got a satisfying meal that will warm your body and soul. Best part is it took less time than it takes to order pizza.

Shortcut Bolognese

Meat Sauce in Four Easy Steps

1. Sauté 8-ounces sliced mushrooms with EVOO, salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Add 1 pound ground beef (or frozen pound of ground), or ½ pound each of ground beef and pork to the pan and sauté.

3. Add 1-2 cups red wine to sautéed beef and mushrooms and let simmer.

4. Add a 24-ounce jar of your favorite tomato sauce and bring to a simmer; let reduce slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over favorite pasta or Spaghetti Squash with fresh-grated parmesan cheese.


December is a busy month. And, with cooler weather all over the country, it’s also a month where we crave comfort food.

So what do you do for dinner when you don’t feel like cooking, don’t feel like ordering-in and you don’t want to microwave a frozen dinner?

I say make Bolognese. This isn’t the simmer-on-the-stove all day authentic Bolognese, but it is hearty and soulful with layers of flavor and that checks all the boxes for me. This recipe is more assembly than recipe and that makes it easy enough for even the non-cook to make, and the ingredients make sure it passes muster with more experienced ones.

I can’t take credit for the idea, that came from my friend Matt. But I have embellished his shortcut Bolognese with sautéed mushrooms and red wine and those two ingredients make it crave-worthy.

Much of the long-simmered flavor comes from using your favorite jar sauce. My friend Matt doesn’t veer from Rao’s Homemade Tomato Basil sauce.

My favorite is either Rao’s or Victoria Fine Foods Vodka sauce. I like the light addition of cream in the Vodka sauce which makes my sauce reminiscent of the original Italian method of adding milk or cream to Bolognese.

Since the sauce is already made, all you have to do is sauté the mushrooms and brown the meat and cook everything together. I love sautéed sliced mushrooms but if you want them to disappear into the meat sauce, chop them in a food processor and you won’t be able to tell the difference between the meat and the mushrooms.

Most of the time, I use a pound of lean ground beef, but sometimes I use half ground beef and half pork. If you can find Pound of Ground in your area, it’s a great time-saver. It’s a pound of ground beef that is frozen in individual clusters so that you don’t have to remember to take your meat out of the freezer and thaw it. That turns this recipe into an easy weeknight meal that you don’t have to do much planning or shopping to make.

Once the mushrooms and the meat are lightly cooked, I add 2 cups of red wine to the mixture and let it cook, reducing it slightly. I add wine to increase the depth the flavor so that it tastes like it has simmered on the stove all day.

Once the meat and the mushrooms are infused with the red wine, I add the jar of sauce and let that simmer for five-to-ten minutes while the pasta finishes cooking. You can use the sauce to top any of your favorite pastas—and it’s just as good on top of spaghetti squash—but I am partial to spaghetti or tagliatelle.

Grate a generous amount of Parmesan Reggiano cheese on top and you’ve got a satisfying meal that will warm your body and soul. Best part is it took less time than it takes to order pizza.

Shortcut Bolognese

Meat Sauce in Four Easy Steps

1. Sauté 8-ounces sliced mushrooms with EVOO, salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Add 1 pound ground beef (or frozen pound of ground), or ½ pound each of ground beef and pork to the pan and sauté.

3. Add 1-2 cups red wine to sautéed beef and mushrooms and let simmer.

4. Add a 24-ounce jar of your favorite tomato sauce and bring to a simmer; let reduce slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over favorite pasta or Spaghetti Squash with fresh-grated parmesan cheese.

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