Saturday, May 29, 2010

Beurrista Without Butter?

Beurrista's Bolognese

My college BFF and fellow blogger, Rebecca, has a baking and cooking blog called Beurrista.  Her motto?  "Butter is Better!"  When she posted this recipe for Bolognese Sauce, I knew I had to try it.  The beautifully executed photos proved that this was no ordinary spaghetti sauce.  This cook-all-day sauce looked like noodles wrapped in love.  

According to the master, a key ingredient to this sauce is San Marzano Tomatoes.  They are heirloom plum tomatoes grown in the sun-drenched volcanic soil of Mt. Vesuvius, and they have a sweeter, more intense tomato flavor.  After some preliminary shopping, I could not find these at either Super Target or Publix.  Much to my delight, however, I finally found a giant can of these tomatoes at Costco!  The 106 ounce mega-tin was only $3.89!

After doing the math, I decided to use the entire can and quadruple the recipe.  Because this recipe called for an all-day simmer, I started as soon as the kids left for school.

First, it starts with - Butter!  Since I inherited all the bad genes, I wondered, could I make this delectable dish without butter?

I started with olive oil and minced onions, carrots and celery.

Next I added ground beef, (Her recipe called for beef, pork and veal, but that just sounded way too complicated.) fat free half and half (instead of whole milk) and white wine (hint:  the sweeter the better). You cook it forever until almost all the liquid has evaporated.

Finally, the San Marzano Tomatoes!  In my excitement, I poured the whole tomatoes in before chopping them, so I had to take my kitchen shears and try to chop them in the pot!

As you can see, after quadrupling the recipe, my very largest pot was filled to the brim.  The estimated total simmer time for a doubled recipe was about 4 hours and 45 minutes.

At noon, I turned off the stove and picked up Ella.  As soon as we got back home, I turned the stove back on.  By 2:00, hardly any liquid had evaporated. 

I decided I needed to speed up the process, so I divided the sauce into two pots.

At 2:50, I turned off the stove again and picked up the other three kids.  By now, my kitchen had turned into a tomato sauna!  Upon my return, I continued to simmer for another 2 hours.  The sauce would not thicken!  Finally,  in desperation, I threw in...... a stick of butter!

Like magic, the sauce began to thicken.  After cooking all day, we would finally be able to eat dinner!  I tasted the recipe and added some kosher salt, a couple spoonfuls of brown sugar and my secret weapon - Modenaceti's Balsamic Glaze.

So here is my version of Bolognese.

The family seemed to love it (of course, they love anything when they get to use the cheese grater!) and after eating it, my husband said in all seriousness, "Do you know what I think this could use?  Some stewed tomatoes!"

Simple Girl's Bolognese Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup minced onions
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/2 cup minced celery
3 lbs. ground beef
1 quart fat free half and half
1 bottle white wine (the sweeter the better)
106 oz. Costco can of San Marzano Tomatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 really big squirts of Modenaceti's Balsamic Glaze
1 28 oz. can of Muir Glen Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Kosher salt to taste

Heat olive oil your biggest pan over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot and celery and saute until softened, but not browned.  Add ground meat and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.  Crumble meat and break into tiny pieces.  Cook until the meat loses its raw color but has not yet browned.

Add half and half and bring to a simmer.  Add wine and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the wine evaporates.  Add tomatoes and their juice and bring a simmer.  Pour half into a large saucepan to speed up the evaporation process.  Simmer all day until the liquid has evaporated.  Add one stick of butter to thicken.  Add Fire Roasted Tomatoes (to make the hubby happy!).

Serve over your favorite pasta and serve with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.

Divide the leftovers into quart-sized freezer ziploc bags and enjoy this sauce for many meals to come!

To read Beurrista's Bolognese recipe, go to
Under labels, click on Bolognese.


  1. I love your bolognese tale.

    I'm getting me a costco tin— I didn't know they carried them! And where does one find the Balsamic Glaze?

  2. After enjoying a balsamic glaze/olive oil bread dipping sauce at the NorthPoint Diner, I ordered a three-pack from Since then I have also seen it at one grocery store. (I can't remember which one!) I'm glad you enjoyed the tale!

  3. Is the glaze similar to balsamic vinegar with some water cooked out? Or does it have some other ingredients? I make a very acceptable glaze by using the 10 year old balsamic from Trader Joes and cooking until reduced by half. Good on strawberries. Super good on chunks of parmiggiano reggiano.

  4. I think that is exactly how this glaze is made. I think your technique would work just as well! This is just pre-made! Funny you should mention it, I'm heading to Trader Joe's today! :-)