This is a quick and easy version of the famous meat sauce, most often eaten with spaghetti. Children will love it with other types of pasta or ravioli, or stirred into a basic risotto for a hearty, meaty version. Bolognese keeps for up to two months in the freezer, making it perfect for freezing in small quantities to feed the kids when you're going out. Thaw it in the microwave, cook fresh pasta, reheat the thawed sauce -- the kids can do this by themselves (depending on their ages) -- and, viola, instant dinner. This sauce is one of my boys' favorites and it's the meat sauce we prefer for their Quick Lasagne. If you don't wish to use the pork, you can substitute more ground beef or veal, chicken, turkey or lamb -- any of these will add some complexity to the flavor.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion
1 rib of celery
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
3 sprigs of thyme
1 cup white wine
2/3 cup of milk
1 28-ounce can of tomato purŽe
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
1. Older children can help you chop the onion, carrot and celery into a small dice. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the diced onion, carrot and celery and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add the meat and continue to cook over medium heat, letting the children "smash 'n stir" with a wooden spoon to brown it evenly until it is no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes.
2. Now have little ones pluck the thyme leaves from their stems, then parents or older children can chop or beat them slightly with a wooden spoon to release their oils. Add the herbs to the meat, and then have the kids add the wine and continue to cook, about 5 minutes, until it evaporates, stirring occasionally. Next they can add the milk and continue cooking until the liquid is evaporated. Now stir in the tomato purŽe and the nutmeg. Cook for about an hour more over medium heat until the sauce is thickened. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
3. Serve over pasta, ravioli or stir into basic risotto. It is wonderful when topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.