When you’re marrying an Italian man (who has more Irish than Italian but who am I to question his ethnic claim?), there’s a few things you need to quickly add to your repertoire. The first being a tasty marinara. The second being a bolognese. The third is the caveat that both must taste authentic and the way his Italian grandmother makes them.
It’s only his childhood memories that I’m up against.
Thankfully, he was willing to share a few of their secrets to help me improve what I thought was already a pretty good sauce. The below is what he and I have since concocted and perfected. I serve it over my Brussels Sprouts Braised with Mustard because when you’re paleo, you discover that traditional foods don’t necessarily have to be eaten traditionally. This also tastes fantastic with zoodles (zucchini noodles) and spaghetti squash. And when we really feel like splurging, over paleo noodles. Because sometimes you just want a noodle.
Cinnamon might not be a common ingredient by American standards, but adding it gives the sauce a sweet flavor and doesn’t add to the sugar content. Growing up, we would use brown sugar to cut the acid and give the sauce sweeter undertones. The cinnamon does the same, all the while keeping it sugar-detox approved. Also, for the tomatoes, I process mine in the summer and freeze them at the peak of ripeness. And by process, I mean I throw mine in the Ninja for a few seconds and that’s it! Into the freezer they go! Until I decide that I’m craving a slow-cooked Bolognese. If you don’t have frozen tomatoes, fresh work, too – just make sure you adjust your cooking time and add an hour or two. Or, you can use two cans of 28-oz BPA-free organic diced tomato such as the Muir Glenn brand. (Which thankfully WinCo carries and is super cheap for all of you Pacific Northwesterners.)
- 1 lb pasture-raised organic ground pork
- 3 tsp Mild Italian Sausage Seasoning
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 quarts fresh organic diced tomatoes, with their juice – use a medley of Romas and juicier tomatoes
- ¼ cup organic non-BPA lined tomato paste
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- In a mixing bowl, combine spice mix and ground pork (or just use 1 lb pork sausage if you can find a good source with no added sugar). Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Heat a medium-sized dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the pork until slightly browned, stirring often and breaking up the larger pieces. Remove pork from dutch oven and set aside, keeping the fat at the bottom of the pan.
- Add the onion and ghee to the sausage fat and continue to cook until translucent. Add garlic and saute until lightly golden and very aromatic.
- Dump in the tomatoes, juices and all, and the tomato paste. Add the spices and stir.
- Reduce heat to low and put a lid slightly on. Simmer, stirring often, for 3 hours. After two hours, add the meat and continue simmering.
- Serve warm! And just like most Italian recipes, this makes enough to feed the whole Roman army!