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Did you grow up like me, family gathered in the kitchen around the table enjoying a real dinner?  What do I mean by “real dinner?”  I’m talking about those dinners where your Mom and maybe your Dad worked in the kitchen on not just preparing one dish, but several {including sides and a salad}.  This is the type of dinner where you walked away being satisfied both in the delicious meal you just had, but with the conversation and time spent with some of your favorite people.  If you were really lucky, there was a recently purchased gallon of ice cream in the freezer just waiting to be opened and dished out into small, glass dessert bowls.

I love those evenings and they always seem to take place on a Sunday.

For the sake of trying to not just keep up with tradition but celebrate those traditions, we gather almost every Sunday for one of those special dinners.  Tonight, we’re having Cavatappi with Bolognese Sauce (you remember, I’m Italian).

This recipe for Bolognese Meat Sauce comes from Nathalie Dupree Cooks Great Meals for Busy Days.  I {heart} this amazing cookbook author as you already know from this post and this one too.

Now, I’m not going lie to you {especially on a Sunday}, but this takes a bit of work.  If time is not on your side and you need a quick tomato sauce, look here.

So, let’s get started.

In a large pot, heat 3 tbsp oil and 5 tbsp butter over medium heat.  You’ll need 2 medium onions, chopped.  Cook the onions until they are soft, about 5 minutes.

You’ll also need two celery stalks and two carrots (scraped) and chopped.  Yes, there’s some chopping, but it will be so worth it when your sauce is finished, I promise.

After the onions cook, add 2 cloves of minced garlic along with the chopped celery and carrots.  Cook and stir for 3 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 lbs ground chuck to the vegetables and stir until the beef begins to cook through, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 cups of milk to cooked beef, bring to a boil , reduce the heat, and simmer until the milk has evaporated.  {important step}

Add freshly ground black pepper and 1/8 tsp of grated nutmeg.  I used my microplane grater for this step.  Next, add 2 cups of a dry white wine (I used chardonnay), bring to a boil, reduce and simmer until the wine has evaporated.

Add one 28-ounce can of Italian plum tomatoes, cut up with their juice to the pot.  Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat.  Cook over very low heat, uncovered, until liquid is evaporated about 10-15 minutes.  Add one cup of water, stir, and let simmer again.  Repeat this process until the mixture has cooked about 3 to 4 hours.

 Here’s to amazing Sunday dinners with your family.  And, let me know what you have planned for your Sunday dinner.

Bolognese Meat Sauce


3 tbsp oil

5 tbsp butter

2 medium onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 1/2 lbs ground chuck

1 1/2 cups milk

Freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

2 cups dry white wine

1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, cut up with their juices

Kosher salt

sugar (optional)

1 lb pasta (I used cavatappi)

freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese


In a large pot, heat the oil and 3 tbsp butter.  Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and cook, stirring, 2 or 3 minutes.  Crumble the beef into the pot and cook, stirring as needed, until the beef starts to turn white, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the milk, bring to the boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the milk has evaporated.  Add the freshly ground pepper and grate the nutmeg in.  Add the wine, bring to the boil, reduce, and simmer until it is evaporated, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, bring back to the boil, and reduce the heat.  Cook over very low heat, uncovered, until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 to 15 minutes.  This reduction usually takes a couple of hours.  Add a cup of water, stir, and let simmer again.  Repeat this process until the mixture has cooked 3 to 4 hours.  The fat will rise to the surface and separate and this is necessary to coat the pasta.  Taste and add sugar if using, and salt and pepper as needed.

When ready to eat, toss the hot sauce with the cooked, drained pasta, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and the freshly grated Parmesan.  The sauce will keep, refrigerated, 2 to 3 days.

Kitchen note:  I omitted the sugar and also omitted the last 2 tablespoons of butter.