There is nothing nicer than something bubbling away on top of the stove on a Sunday evening. When I was small, Sunday evenings were the pits. I would watch the Donnie and Marie Show and then cry, every single Sunday of the term. Donnie and Marie meant that Monday morning - and school - was nigh. The horror! But now I like Sunday evenings. Is it because Monday morning and school is nigh? Possibly! But I also like the nesting feeling; the last moments of quiet and calm before the busy week begins, the turning on of the lamps, the kitchen radio playing, the kids are well rested and usually involved in some game, or drawing or watching a beloved movie on the couch, finally without screeching at one another. And so the cheerful burble and the delicious smells of something in the big pot fits into all of that.
Lately, that big pot is filled with bolognese sauce on a Sunday, which we serve up for dinner and then freeze the rest. It's so easy and so delish! Until early this year my bol sauce consisted of meat + a jar of Paul Newman's. Not very posh really. Wanting a change, I had done a little research (well, I opened Stephanie's encyclopedia of cooking) and felt that inward lazy sigh when I looked at the list of ingredients... it looked very good but I wanted something quick - a step up from the meat + Paul's, but quick just the same. While we were holidaying up in Sydney in January my Sister-in-Law defrosted two tubs of her bolognese sauce and it was so good. So good! And she assured me that it was very easy and exceptionally freeze-able. I copied out the recipe pronto - it's a Ragu recipe from Delicious magazine -- and I can't find a copy of it online and I didn't note down which issue it was from ... but I have fiddled with it now anyway. Here's what I do:
Sunday Night Spag Bol
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 clove (or more) of garlic, minced 500 g beef mince (ground beef) 2 tablespoons of tomato paste 3/4 cups (180 ml) beef stock (or half red wine) 2 x 400 g cans diced (crushed or even chopped up after opening) tomatoes 1 dessert spoon of dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon tomato sauce (use my Mum's if you can get your hands on it! It's as rare as hens teeth). Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large nonstick fry pan over high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add the mince and brown well for 10 mins - making sure to break up any big lumps with a wooden spoon. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add stock and stir until the stock has almost evaporated. Add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes. At this point I cover it again and let it bubble away for another fifteen minutes or so. I don't know why - I seem to think that it makes it taste better, but I have never tried *not* doing it so I have nothing to compare it to, so let it bubble away for another 15 to 20 mins, stirring every so often so that it doesn't stick on the bottom, and making sure it doesn't dry out too much.
Serve on pasta with parmesan cheese and a green salad - or in lasagna. It's pretty good in lasagna actually.
I usually double the batch and then divide it up into small containers and freeze it. My Sister-in-Law also suggests added grated veg to it to get the extra goodies into veg-phobic kids.
By the way - did you see the Gruffalo on the ABC a few weeks ago? We taped it and play it so much! It's our favourite Sunday evening viewing.