The origin of this recipe is unknown. A young newly-immigrated graduate student walks to the nearest supermarket and discovers bow-tie shaped “noodles” and red sauce that comes in jars. A mother overhears her American children talking of “SpaghettiOs” and endeavors to make the healthier, non-canned version herself.
Why Bolognese, when cereal, sandwiches, salads, or carton-ed chicken stock failed to infiltrate the insular nuclear Chinese family? Perhaps the style in which it is served more closely resembles other dishes on other nights. That bolognese, a reinvented and tired recipe, is the nesting place of convenient hospitality and convivial dining: a centerpiece from which sprout a dozen chopsticks; an arena of tug-of-war over spaghetti strands; an echo-spot from which voices originate, barking over one to hear the other.
This recipe was never adopted by the next generation but has been recorded for posterity. *Disclaimer: we do not hold ourselves liable for the possible injuries caused by the fainting of Italian people(s) appalled and startled by the excessive creative liberty taken by the creator of this recipe. Please speak with your doctor before experiencing Mom’s (Extra) Chunky Bolognese Sauce.
Ground meat. Variety: Unknown
Thumb-sized knob of ginger, sliced into large discs*
White onions, chopped roughly**
Green peppers***, chopped roughly**
Carrots, sliced on the diagonal**
Celery, sliced on the diagonal**
2 jars of Wegmans™**** marinara sauce
1 tablespoon of McCormick™’s Italian Seasoning
* Remember to count the number of pieces you come up with, as it will become important later in the recipe.
** In order to achieve the “extra chunky” consistency, please refrain from dicing vegetables into pieces smaller than Legos.
*** If you seek to substitute green with red peppers, do so at the risk of compromising the authenticity of this dish, as red peppers are not provided by Chinese supermarkets. It is an American concept to provide multicolored peppers for the sake of asserting commitment to pluralism and appreciation for diversity.
**** This is not an endorsement, though Wegmans™ marinara sauce always happens to be the cheapest.
***** We had to make some part of this dish authentic.
- Thaw ground meat overnight by moving it from freezer to refrigerator. Alternatively if you are making this recipe for dinner, place ground meat in your sink before you go to work and it should be thawed by the time you return. (Assuming you, like an Asian mother raising Asian kids, work a 9 to 5 job).
- Find the McCormick™’s Italian Seasoning in your cabinet, if it has not already been shuffled into another jar and relabeled with a slip of printer paper and scotch tape. The Italian Seasoning will be a confetti of green plant-life, not those little black twiggy capsules (peppercorn), or that luminescent orange powder (curry powder), or what looks like rice (probably rice) or straight-up bark (some Chinese herbal medicine you’re sure will make it into your next chicken soup). Place the spice to the side, as you will not be needing it until the very end of this process.
- Drizzle olive oil into a seasoned pan or dutch oven, preferably semi-non-stick. Throw in onion, ground meat and ginger and sauté until ground meat has changed color and rawness has been cooked out. Do not, at this stage, add in carrots or celery or peppers, despite what you may have learned about these vegetables being the foundation of the sauce’s flavor. Here, they are only meant to provide texture.
- Perhaps once, this recipe was made correctly and the aforementioned vegetables went in at this time. Instead, empty the two jars of marinara sauce into the pan. Pour some boiling water into the jars and swirl to pick up any sauce left on the sides of the jar. [The boiling water was not mentioned in the ingredient list because your kettle should always be on standby.] This performs two actions (Because we Chinese are efficient like that.): (1) it minimizes waste and maximizes your purchase; and (2) it adds water to the sauce to keep the sauce from drying out as it simmers away.
- After ten minutes—or the time it takes to clean up the kitchen—feel free to add the carrots, peppers, and celery. At one point your kid will walk in and insist on “helping” you by stirring and splattering the stovetop with red sauce. You’ll allow it. At this point, also, you may consider boiling the pasta you will be serving this sauce on. Remember to boil at least 3X more than the serving suggestion, because spaghetti is noodles, and you never skimp on the noodles.
- After the carrots have tenderized but the pepper is still somewhat crunchy, and the consistency of the sauce is like that of a chili, throw in some tablespoons of Italian Seasoning™. Do not be shy with the Italian Seasoning™ but do salt to taste.
- Right before you serve the sauce, pick out each of the ginger chunks by hand. You added them to suck up any stray odors from the meat but now your kids will accidentally crunch into them, whine, and spit out their food. You do not like to see chewed up food, but more importantly, you hate seeing those little faces distort in suffering. It is a little extra, but that is who you are.
- Remember never to add cheese. Doing so will subvert the authenticity of this recipe.
- After your kids eat way more than their fill, you will find that you still have leftover Bolognese. As with many of your dishes, you will always make too much to consume in one sitting. Store your sauce in the refrigerator to be reheated and spooned up on a later date. Life is about the abundance. And the leftovers.