Hey there, it’s a healthy Friday here on Full Fork Ahead! If you’ve risen from your shocked position on the floor, let’s proceed. Cuz I even bought the whole grain pasta to go with, so wooeee! That’s right. All healthy and stuff. Bolognese is a meat sauce, and the recipe calls for ground pork, but being the rebels we are, I opted for ground chicken instead. I know, will the madness ever stop? Throw in tons of diced or chopped mushrooms and you get a really meaty, very mushroomy sauce that is thick and extra tasty. When you toss the healthier pasta in you won’t even notice the difference.
This is the first time I’ve made a bolognese recipe, and I’ve heard they normally can take a while to make because it’s meant to be a slow-simmered sauce. This one though is not only easy, it really doesn’t need that long to simmer.
It starts off with reconstituting some dried porcini mushrooms in hot water. Save the liquid for later use. It was surprising how much mushroom flavor these and their reserved liquid added to the overall dish.
I could’ve sworn the recipe called for a pound of meat, but realized later it was actually half a pound. Ground chicken at my grocery store sells in one pound packages, but after putting only half in, I realized there wouldn’t be very much meat in this sauce. We added it all and were glad we did. It makes a lot of sauce and half a pound wouldn’t have been very meaty.
At this point the mushrooms were added in and have been cooking down for a few minutes. While the recipe stated 8 cups, we stopped chopping at six and it was puuuuhlenty!
Hmmm, if I recall correctly, at this point, the tomato paste, wine and reserved porcini liquid and shrooms were added.
The sauce – it is complete! We added the can of whole, peeled tomatoes and the sauce simmered for about 30 minutes – not long at all! This is a very do-able recipe for a work night. It’s really amazing how thick it gets, considering the short simmer time.
Normally we keep the pasta and sauce separate in our houe, waiting to combine the wo till we’re ready to serve ourselves. I liked going ahead and adding them together this time. Of course, spaghetti-like pasta is notoriously hard to incorporate fully with a sauce like this. The sauce just seems to want to settle outside of and around and underneath the pasta. Whatevs, it’s all good. Spoon it up and let’s eat!
God I love a good, rich-tasting pasta sauce. I actually get stuck in a rut a little, falling back on one of our old favorites, which, while good, could still use a little relief now and then. This just might be the sauce to do the trick! It’s definitely nice and meaty, but the ground chicken isn’t heavy. The mushrooms come through in flavor surprisingly well. We added a few tablespoons of dried Italian seasoning to kick the flavor up some, but feel free to toss in the fresh herbs instead if you have them. A bit of freshly grated Parmesan is the perfect finishing touch. Definitely make this if you’re a lover of meaty pasta sauces.
adapted slightly from Mushroom Bolognese by Mark Bittman, Cooking Light Magazine, October 2010, via MyRecipes.com
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: about 1 hour Level: Easy Serves: 6-8
- 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/2 pound ground chicken
- 6 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
- 10 ounces uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2-3 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning (optional)
Combine porcini and boiling water in a bowl; cover and let stand 20 minutes or until soft. Drain porcini in a colander lined with a paper towel over a bowl, reserving liquid. Rinse and chop porcini.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and pork; cook 10 minutes or until pork is browned, stirring to crumble pork. (If using the dried herbs, add them at this point and test occasionally to see if you want to add more.) Add cremini mushrooms, garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 15 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. Add porcini; cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add reserved porcini liquid and wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes as necessary.
Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon salt to cooking water. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce; top with cheese and parsley.
It’s funny to me to realize while writing this up that we forgot to add in the milk the original recipe lists, but we clearly didn’t miss it as the pasta was plenty delicious. If you’d like to add it in, it was a quarter cup of whole milk (added in at the very end, just stir it through), though I can’t attest to how it would make the dish taste. Probably not too differently. It’s only a quarter cup after all. Although, many bolognese recipes I looked at do use milk. So it’s up to you!