Murray’s Cheesy Bolognese
This isn’t your grandmother’s baked ziti! This rich bolognese creation is like if lasagna met mac and cheese and got an oven-baked makeover. Filled with cooked veggies and ground beef, this homemade bolognese sauce is a savory accompaniment to baked pasta, with a bright addition of fresh mozzarella and Tickler Cheddar. Tickler, a salty, sweet and fruity cheddar variety, gives a kick of mouthwatering sharp flavor to this meaty combo of tomatoes and spice. The ultimate comfort food, this dish is best served at family dinner.
preparation & ingredients
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
To make the Bolognese sauce, Heat a large, high walled pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the ground beef, without any oil or fat and season with 2 Tablespoons salt. Do not move the beef until seared on one side, about 5 minutes. Move the meat around and continue to cook until completely browned, another 8-10 minutes.
While meat is cooking, clean all produce. Peel and medium-dice the onion and carrot, then dice celery. Finely mince or grate the garlic cloves on a microplane.
Once the meat has cooked, transfer to a lined sheet tray and drain and discard any excess fat.
Heat the same pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil, then the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, just until the garlic begins to turn light brown. Add the diced onion, carrot, and celery. Season with salt and cook just until the vegetables are translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and mix into the vegetables thoroughly. Continue to cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until the tomato paste begins to brown on the bottom of the pan.
Being careful of any splatter, add the white wine to deglaze. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula, making sure to get any brown bits up and mixed into the wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by 3/4 , about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce and the cooked beef. Bring the sauce to a simmer then reduce the heat to low. Cook the sauce for at least two hours over low heat, stirring every 20 minutes. For a deeper flavor, cook the sauce adding water if needed, for up to 6 hours over low heat, adding ½ cup of water every hour.
While the sauce cooks, cook the pasta. Add 3 handfuls of kosher salt to the pot of water – it should taste like ocean water. Cook the pasta about 1 minute less than the time on the package. Drain the pasta and allow to cool on a sheet tray.
Preheat oven to 350F. Once the sauce and pasta has cooked, you can assemble. In a large mixing bowl, add the Bolognese sauce, the cooked pasta, and the half of each the grated cheddar and diced mozzarella. Transfer to a large baking dish. Add the remaining cheese to the top of the pasta and place on a lined sheet tray into the oven. Cook until cheese has browned on top and the sauce is bubbling on the sides of the dish – if the ingredients are cold, about 45 minutes; if the ingredients are still warm, about 25 minutes.