Bolognese Sauce

 

What you will need:

 

  • 16 large red tomatoes, stems removed (you can substitute with 4-8 cans stewed tomatoes but it just isn’t the same)
  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped
  • ½ cup bell peppers or 4 baby bell peppers, chopped (I will usually by a bag of the baby bell peppers, they typically last for a full week and I can us a couple at a time without cutting a half large pepper and wasting the rest, plus they are great to snack on)
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 9 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil (2 tbsp. dried can be substituted)
  • ¼ cup fresh oregano (2 tbsp. dried can be substituted)
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano for ground beef seasoning
  • 1 lb. ground hamburger meat (80/20)-if you want get creative ground lamb or veal gives a great flavor
  • 4 links hot Italian sausage (you can use mild or sweet if you prefer) – Remove sausage from the casing, and crumble
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 cup red wine (I typically keep a bottle of cheap red wine in the kitchen, works great as a base for a sauce with steak)
  • Salt and Pepper (I prefer kosher salt, the crystals are larger and helps to stop you from over salting food)

 

**Caveman Tip: I like to make this sauce on a Saturday or Sunday because it leaves me with great leftovers for a lunch and dinner during the week. Not only that but I am able to freeze some of the left over sauce for some quick and easy pasta meals the next week.

 

Prepare – grill style

 

Heat the grill to low heat.  We’re staying with propane on this one; it’s just quicker and less messy.  Remove stems from all 16 tomatoes and cut them in half.  Brush with EVOO, salt and pepper.  Once grill is warm, place the halved tomatoes cut side down on well-oiled grill for about 5 minutes or until soft. They should have some char marks but not burnt.   **Caveman Tip: Grilling the tomatoes not only makes them easier to peel for our sauce, but it also gives them that caveman zest!  Removing the skin from the tomatoes helps to reduce the bitter flavor.

 

 When tomatoes are warm, remove them from grill and let cool.   Once the tomatoes are cool, remove the skin.  

 

Prepare the base

 

In a large stock pan, coat with EVOO and begin to sauté the onions, bell peppers, carrot, garlic, and celery over medium heat.  Add 2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of pepper.  Sauté until almost soft, then go ahead and add the baby bella mushrooms and fresh basil (or dried). Sauté until everything is soft and smelling good.  Remove entire mixture from pan (do not get rid the pan’s leftover goodness!) and put into a large bowl. 

 

 Cook

 

 Using the same stock pan (with the leftover goodness) add a small amount of EVOO to coat the pan and on medium high heat, add the ground hamburger meat (or veal or lamb). Season the meat with salt, pepper, dried oregano and brown it.  Remove the meat from the pan and place in the same bowl as your sautéed base mixture.  There might be a little liquid in the pan just dump that but don’t scrape it you want all those bits and pieces to carry over to the next process

 

 Add another thin layer of EVOO to the bottom of the pan and add the crumbled hot Italian sausage, brown it over medium high heat.  You will begin to see goodness on the bottom of the pan…that’s all Bolognese goodness flavors for later!  Once it’s brown remove the sausage from the pan and add it to the bowl containing your other ingredients. 

 

 Still on medium heat, pour the red wine into the same pan.  Deglaze the pan.  (Use a metal spatula to scrape all the ‘sausage goodness’ off the bottom of the pan & into the liquid).  Continue to cook until the wine has reduced by half.   (This only takes a few minutes)

 

While your wine is reducing remove the core from your tomatoes.  (the core is the white tough membrane located in the middle of your tomatoes. I just pull it out with my hands) Then, chop your tomatoes.  **Caveman Tip: I like to use a food processor to chop my tomatoes on a pulse setting for a few seconds.  Though it’s one extra thing to clean, but it saves a big mess for cavewoman to clean up.

 

 Once the wine has reduced, add your chopped tomatoes to the large stock pan.  Combine your (base) vegetable mixture, hamburger, and sausage to the pan.  At this time, go ahead and add your oregano.  Bring mixture to a rolling boil (this is not a fierce boil, but more of a light boil).    Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer stirring occasionally.

 

Simmer, and let the flavors “marry”

 

 At this point, the goal is to let the liquid reduce.  This can take 1-2 hours.  I like to keep it over a medium to medium low heat stirring occasionally. You don’t want the solid ingredients to burn on the bottom of the pan; it will result in a bitter flavor to your sauce.   **Caveman Tip:  If you are familiar with my recipes or my style, you know what I’m going to say here…Frequently taste your liquid mixture and make sure you like the flavor.  Just remember this flavor will take a while to start developing

 

 It will take about an hour for the meat and vegetable flavors to ‘marry’ into the sauce and begin to sweeten it up.  After this point – you can add ingredients as needed for your liking (be aware of salt if eating this sauce with noodles or parmesan cheese!  There is plenty of salt in those 2 items) Pepper, dried oregano or basil depending on your preference. If you like a little sweeter sauce, add a tablespoon of brown sugar or honey but be careful not to add too much because as it cooks for the last hour the sausage, carrots and onions will continue to sweeten the sauce.

 

If you like more of a tomato flavor in your sauce (after you’ve simmered an hour), feel free to add a tablespoon of tomato paste.  I prefer that fresh flavor, so I steer away from this. Plus – most cavemen like meat – and we are looking for that wonderful essence in a Bolognese sauce.

 

 Continue to simmer mixture up to another hour, tasting occasionally.  If you feel the sauce is too thick, you can add a little vegetable stock to thin it out; but most likely it will need to reduce more.   

 

 Once your kitchen smells amazing and your sauce tastes marvelous, it’s ready to eat.  I like to pour over pasta, but you can get creative depending on what you’re making it for.  Always taste your sauce and make sure you like it before serving it to others!!

 

I like to take the leftovers and put them in individual containers and freeze them; this allows me to pull out a portion at a time when I want a quick meal.

 

 **Side Note: To make things a little interesting sometimes I like to add a cup of store bought salsa to the sauce it gives the dish a little southwest flare to mix things up.

 

 

 

 

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Homemade Barbecue Sauce

 

What you will need:

  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. table salt
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ½ cup yellow ballpark style mustard
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup  lime juice
  • ¼ cup A1 steak sauce
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • ¼ cup Agave nectar or regular honey
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (or light if that’s all you have)
  • 1 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp. Memphis Rub (from above)
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (can omit or try a hot sauce if you like)
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper chili flakes (can omit if you don’t like that much heat)

 

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Heat over medium heat prior to using for best flavor.

**Caveman Tip:  I prefer to prepare the BBQ sauce the night before you use it, as it allows all the flavors ample time to blend resulting in the ultimate savory BBQ sauce.

 

Country Sausage Gravy

Country Sausage Gravy – (the real stuff)

Here are the first things you need, pull them out of your pantry and let’s get started.

1lb breakfast sausage, not lean because you need all that fat.

Worcestershire Sauce – dash or two

Tabasco – dash or two (if you like a little spice in your food as I do, then use a few dashes of Tapatio or cholula.

1/3 cup whole wheat flour, (you can use all purpose flour also)

4 to 6 cups of milk (whole milk or 2% is fine, this cavemen never uses 1% or fat free)

Let’s put it all together

In a good size skillet brown the sausage over medium heat, you want to get some good color on that sausage. Once the outside is browned reduce heat to medium low and add 1/3 cup whole wheat flour stirring to incorporate. You want the flour to coat the sausage and blend into any fat that was produced by the sausage.  Now add your Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco.  Continue to brown at a medium low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, the longer the flour cooks the darker your gravy will be.

Now taste a small piece of the sausage, there should be no, let me repeat that, NO, flour taste to the sausage, if there is, cook it a couple minutes longer.  If you want to add anything now is the time, be creative try things, just remember try them in small amounts.    Taste it again, ok, we are ready to add the milk.   Start with 3 to 4 cups of milk, you can always add more, but it’s harder then hell to take it out.   This will seem very watery right now so turn the heat up to medium and bring it to a slow bubble while stirring constantly,  this will enable it to thicken.  I like my gravy on the thicker side, but if you like a smoother, slightly thinner gravy add more milk, just remember, a  1/2 cup at a time.  As the gravy bubbles it will continue to thicken..

Your gravy is almost there,  now taste it again.  Yea, I know it’s a little bland right?    Add your Kosher salt and pepper to taste, I like a good pinch of each, now my pinch is about 1/2 tsp.  Give it a good stir to incorporate that salt and taste it again, if you used more milk you may need more salt.   Continue to simmer a few more minutes, if gravy gets to thick add milk.

Only word of advice, you can always add salt at the end, but you can’t take it out.    Now slice those biscuits and add that gravy, or ladle it over a chicken fried steak.  Let me know what you think.