I don't think I've ever gone out to dinner on Valentines day because it's the perfect day to show love through food - my favorite thing! I usually make one of Chris's favorite meals which he really appreciates. While we were in Europe one of his favorite things to order was spaghetti bolognese. I remember watching an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell where she cooked an authentic pasta bolognese that she learned to make in Tuscany. If you can get past the weird grunting noises she makes while cooking, the video is really helpful to watch before attempting this recipe. The recipe and video can be found here.
I cut this recipe in half and it still makes a ton of sauce - enough for 2 chunksters with leftovers to spare. First, chop the veggies and put them in the food processor for a few pulses until you create a kind of paste. I used my Vitamix and it worked fine. Sauté the veggies on medium heat until the water is cooked out and a sort of thick, brown paste is formed. This takes about 15-20 minutes.
Next add the meat to the pan and brown for another 15 minutes. I used a pound and a half of 80/20 ground beef from Whole Foods. Once the meat is nice and brown add the tomato paste (16 oz can ) and brown for another 5 minutes.
Then it's time to add the red wine. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon from Whole Foods for around $12 - you don't want to go too cheap on the wine because it adds a ton of flavor to the sauce. Let the wine reduce for a couple minutes.
After the wine reduces it's time to add water to the pot. This is the point where I realized my "pot" was barely big enough to hold the sauce. I filled it with enough water to just cover the meat. Then I added a couple bay leaves and some dried thyme, parsley and oregano (because I forgot to get a bunch of fresh thyme from the store - wah). The flavor was still rich and hearty. Oh, and I did add salt at every step which I think is key. Let the sauce reduce - uncovered - and add 2-3 cups of water one more time. Then let it hang out and simmer on the stove for up to 4 hours.
Once the sauce is finished put half into a container, and add al dente pasta to the pot with the other half of the sauce. Mix well and add some grated parmesan cheese. The pasta will absorb a ton of the flavor from the sauce, and the heat from the pan will cook it a little more.
To accompany this meal I made a simple garlic bread - a baguette with some butter, crushed fresh garlic (love my garlic press!), parmesan cheese and a little parsley. I also roasted some broccoli and asparagus which is so simple. Toss veggies with olive oil and salt, bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
While this recipe is rather time consuming, it's really just adding ingredients to a pot and stirring. It definitely requires patience, but is so worth it. I got some serious compliments from the man friend on this one and I'll definitely be storing it for use another time.