31, Oct 2007
Shells with Bolognese-Tomato Sauce

Another try at your basic pasta with tomato and meat sauce. I think this might be my best fully-homemade sauce so far (i.e. not relying on a flavor packet or anything). and the whole wheat shells were an entertaining change from my usual vermicelli. this makes a lot of pasta and sauce.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb whole wheat shells
6-8 white mushrooms, halved and sliced
1 white onion, diced
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red jalapeno, minced
1 handful fennel fronds, minced
1 tbsp fennel seeds, ground
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
8-12 oz water
6-8 oz red wine
olive oil, butter, ground black pepper, salt, oregano

Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan on medium-high. Brown the meat and set aside. Clean out the pan and then heat some olive oil and butter on medium-high. Add half the minced garlic and the jalapeno and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the onions and saute for several minutes. Add the mushrooms. Saute until the onions soften, adding a little butter if needed. Add the meat, tomatoes, tomato paste, and about 4 oz of water. Add fennel seeds, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix everything slowly until the tomato paste dissolves in the water. Bring to a bubble and then turn down to low or medium-low. Start water for the pasta in a pot. From here on, you mostly just need to simmer. Add water or red wine as needed — you want things to begin to dissolve into a nice sauce, but to simmer off enough of the liquid so it stays thick. If the consistency is right, simmer covered for a while. Meanwhile, boil the pasta. About 5-10 minutes before the pasta is done, add the rest of the garlic and the fennel fronds. Drain the pasta, and serve with the sauce and some grated parmesan cheese.
good times. sauce was nice and thick, maybe a little too chunky. but good.