"So where'd you get the recipe, anyway?" I asked. My friend Robey was standing at my stove, cooking up a vat of what he said was Bolognese sauce to feed our families.
"The internet, actually," he told me. "I called my mom and asked her to give me hers, but she started balking - so I was like, fuck this, and looked it up. Turned out to be great."
He was right: it is great. Simple too. So much so that a variation of Robey's Bolognese is becoming a staple sauce in our house. To avoid whines of "that's not a traditional bolognese!" from anyone who grew up in Bologna, I'll just call it Robonese.
For which I am in Robey's debt. Because no matter how well I cook a slab of ribs
or a jalapeno-and-cheese-filled burger, every now and then someone in
my house is going to request a meal in which the meat isn't necessarily
the focal point of the dish. But in my world, a meal without meat is
like The Who without Moon and Entwistle, so a meat-based sauce is a
great way for me to get my meat on while tricking my family into
thinking they're eating a pasta dish.
This week I'm going to
serve up two meat-based sauces that will give you something different
to do with those family-sized packs of ground beef. The Robonese is
simple, the meaty Alfredo more complex. Both taste great on pasta, and
if I could put the Robonese in a baby bottle and crawl into bed with
it, I would. But sadly, the nipple jams with beef.
is possibly the easiest sauce to make, giving it a huge value-to-effort
ratio, and the recipe is easily doubled (I'd recommend doing so -
Robonese keeps well for days). Saute a medium sweet onion and a handful
of garlic cloves over medium heat until they're soft and driving your
family into a drooling frenzy. Add a pound of ground beef, seasoned
with salt and pepper. Add a can of tomato paste. Add no liquids.
Cook over a low heat until you can stand it no more. Pour whatever you
haven't already fed on over al dente pasta and go to town.
Meat. Mmmmm, heart attack-y. Boil water for your pasta, then start the
sauce the same as the Robonese, with onion, garlic and butter in a pan,
cooked slowly until soft and sweet. Brown a half pound of seasoned
ground beef in a separate pan and drain. Cut a half pound of prosciutto
into strips and combine it with the beef and onions. Add a half can of
drained, canned peas and a cup of cream. Stir over low heat until the
sauce thickens. Drain your pasta and return it to the pot, pouring the
sauce over the top and adding a bit more cream - you want it coated,
but not swimming. Serve immediately.
I love both of these
sauces for different reasons, but it's the Robonese that gets the nod
at my house more often than not. It's quick, it's simple, it's
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delicious, and it came to me from my best friend, even without his
Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan. He lives in northern Palm Beach County and actually does put liquefied meat in baby bottles.