Goodbye Hamburger Helper!

Who in their right mind would decide to cook bolognese sauce for an Italian? Well, that would be me. Out of all the dishes in the world I could have chosen to make, why on earth did it have to be bolgnese? Maybe because the three ingredients I had on hand happened to be ground beef, canned tomatoes and whipping cream. Maybe it was just meant to be. Either way, he ate 2 bowls of it and even helped to wash the dishes. Success…I think so! The recipe I have definitely serves more than one person, but let’s face it, bolognese is a dish made for sharing. Even if you are only cooking for yourself, you can freeze the leftover sauce. Then when you reheat it, cook yourself some fresh pasta. Please, I beg of you, don’t cook extra pasta the first time and throw it in the freezer. I am cringing at the thought of it! Anyway, ditch the Hamburger Helper and give this recipe a try!

Bolognese Sauce


– 1 pound of ground beef (you could also use any combination of beef, veal or pork)
– 1 medium onion diced fine
– 2-3 cloves of garlic (or more if garlic is your thing)
– 1 cup of minced mushrooms (anything but white mushrooms, they are kind of flavourless)
– 1 can of whole tomatoes
– about 1 1/2 cups of beef or chicken stock
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1/4 to 1/2 cup of whipping cream
– parmesan cheese or parsley to garnish

Before the cream
Bolognese Sauce
After the cream
Bolognese sauce
The final product

This is a dish I would recommend making a while in advance of when you plan to eat it. I find it needs at least 2 hours to simmer down and develop the optimum flavour. First, brown the beef in a heavy bottomed pot (I love using my Le Creuset for this but any sort of dutch oven will do). After it takes on some color, add your onions, garlic and mushrooms. Season the works with salt and pepper (be liberal!). When the onions soften, add in your tomatoes. Because they are whole, I find it easiest to mush them around in my fingers in order to break them down. Who doesn’t like playing with their food? Just make sure your hands are clean! Pour in the stock and more salt and pepper if needed. Now all that’s left to do is wait. You want it to maintain a low simmer, bubbling but not furiously. As the water evaporates, it will thicken. If it becomes too dry, add more stock. Watch it, stirring from time to time, no need to baby it though. During the last 20-30 minutes, add your whipping cream (if you want to be more health conscious, milk is acceptable, it just doesn’t taste as good as the fatty cream!). Like the stock, the cream will begin to reduce and thicken. At this point you are just waiting for the consistancy you prefer (the thicker you like it, the longer you let it cook down). While waiting for this, it is also the perfect time to cook your pasta. Spaghetti, linguine and fettucine are all good options. Boiling it is pretty straight forward. Make sure your water is heavily salted (it should taste like the ocean) and follow the guidelines for time on the back of the box. Plate everything up, top with some parmesan and parlsey and you are all set to eat!

4 thoughts on “Goodbye Hamburger Helper!

  • September 14, 2011 at 12:18 am

    It was good, not the conventianal way but even unconventional italian food is still damn good in my opinion. remember kids culinary is french based, but thats only cause italians couldnt give a meatball about that that stuff (they know theyre the best)

  • September 14, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Who is writing this blog, you or me? Just kidding, feel free to speak your mind…you are going do to that regardless right?


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