Recipe of the Week: Clean-out-the-Fridge Bolognese

OR, Bolognese, the drinking game!




It all started so innocently. I was cutting down a bunch of celery into sticks, and using some of the tops for chicken salad.  This is what I had left.

 
It seemed like such a waste to pitch an entire 2qt Pyrex full of celery bits. I also had some excess chopped red onion left over from said chicken salad.


Which got me thinking, what other produce did I have that needed to be used up?


White mushrooms, cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, two bell peppers that were starting to get soft, a few pieces of orange bell pepper, more red onion, and a snack bag of carrots that were losing some crunch.  Then there was the partial container of chicken broth.  This combination screamed Bolognese.


And then, there was the half bottle of sparkling white wine. 


This was going to be fun.


Obviously, we can't make Bolognese without tomatoes. I had a look in my pantry and found that, well, I was out of a lot of basics.  Apparently I made a little too much tomato-based goodness this past summer and was down to a single large can of crushed tomatoes, and a can of tomato basil soup.  Oh well, I can make this work.


Grab the olive oil, garlic bulbs, and dutch oven, and we're set.  Start the drinking!



Drinking game rules:
Rule 1: No knives, unless absolutely necessary. We don't want any wine-related injuries.  Use a chopper or food processor whenever possible.
Rule 2: After every ingredient addition, drink.
Rule 3: After stirring the pot, drink.
Rule 4: If you open the pot when it's simmering, finish the glass and pour another.
Rule 5: If you manage to burn the bottom, just go ahead and finish the bottle.  You'll need it. 
Pro tip: Do not attempt if you haven't eaten a decent lunch, or if the kids will be awakening from naptime within the next 90 minutes.

Ready?  Allez cuisines!



1. Chop down about 1/3 to 1/2 of a large red onion.  Add to it about 4-6 cloves of chopped garlic.


2. Chop down the celery bits.  Add to the onion and garlic.


3. Chop down the handful of white mushrooms and the bits of leftover orange pepper (or whatever random bits and pieces of veggies that you have).


4. Put your dutch oven (this one is 3 qt) on the stove, and add a slug of olive oil (about 1-2 tbsp).  Turn the burner on to highest setting.


5. Throw all of your aromatics and random little bits into the pot and sauté.  Add some salt, pepper, and Italian Seasoning blend. 


Time for a refill!


That's better. Onward!


6. How much chicken broth do I have left? For all intents and purposes, a pint (or 1/2 box).


Into the pan it goes. Give it a stir and let it come to a boil.


By now, the mixture is starting to smell delectably like Thanksgiving dressing.  Have another drink to keep yourself from drooling.

 

7. Chop down your carrots and add to the pan. The boiling broth will cook them down quickly.
 
 
8. Time to break Rule #1.  Remove the core and ribs from the bell pepper and coarsely dice them.  Add to the prep bowl.


 
9. Quarter the mushrooms and add to the prep bowl. (I tried to chop them down.  Big mistake - it kinda clogged up the blades on my mini-chopper.  If your food processor or chopper doesn't have the issues that mine does, score 10 points for Gryffindor and use your gadget.)


10. Add the mushrooms and peppers to the pan.  Give it a good stir to get everything evenly coated with broth and aromatics. (And yes, drink twice because you added two ingredients.)


11. If you're like me, and you forgot to thaw the beef at the outset, do it now.  About 1 lb, give or take, will be enough. Crumble and add it to the pan. (If you have freezer burned beef in the depths of your unit, this is a good use for it!)

11a. Got any dry red table wine (like rosso or burgundy)? Add about a cup of it now. I didn't have any on hand.


Time for another refill... (hic!)

 
12. Add the tomatoes (28 oz can) and soup (16 oz can). (Drink twice again.)  If you've got some fresh basil in the garden, go pick a stem and add some chopped leaves for extra flavor.


13. Bring the whole thing to a boil, and cut the heat back to medium-low.


14. Cover and simmer for about an hour. No peeking, unless you really want to chug the rest of your wine.


15. The whole mess will cook down, reducing by about 25%, yielding about 2 - 2.5 qts of thick, rich sauce. 


16. Allow to cool and split out into containers. One for this week, and three or four for the freezer. 


The square container fed two adults and three hungry toddlers, when served over pasta.  Also works well over spiralized zucchini squash (courgette to my friends across the pond).  Add salad and garlic bread to finish the meal.  This is a great make-ahead meal for shutdown heck week(s), and a great salvage-the-produce meal following shutdown heck. I consider this one of my go-to recipes, even though it varies based upon what I have on hand. 

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