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filed in Foodstuff, Happy Ever After

Are There Happy Foods?


I had a gooey chocolate chip cookie for breakfast today. It’s one of my happy foods, as is garlic pizza, baked potatoes with sour cream, and my number one happy food, Spaghetti with Bolognese Meat Sauce. It takes five hours to complete a classic Bolognese from the time I start chopping onions till I turn off the burner. For best results, you can’t rush the process. I double the recipe and ladle the leftover sauce into small containers. On a day when I’m feeling lonely or uncertain where my life is headed, and then I remember the Bolognese in the freezer, my mood shifts. I get anchored and cheery. I shave some parmegiano-reggiano over the pasta, and wholeheartedly believe that eating it is as good as sex. Except that afterwards you have to wash the dishes. (The clean up is worth it.)

How comforting to know that happiness can sometimes be as simple as opening the freezer door.

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Meat Sauce

makes 2 heaping cups, for about 6 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoons for tossing the pasta
1/2 C. chopped onion
2/3 C. chopped celery
2/3 C. chopped carrot
3/4 pound ground beef chuck (see note)
Black pepper, freshly ground
1 C. whole milk
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 C. dry white wine
1 1/2 C canned Italian plum tomatoes, cut in with their juice
1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds pasta
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

1. Put oil and butter in a pot with chopped onion. Turn heat on to medium. Cook and stir onion until translucent. Add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for 2 minutes more, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.

2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Break up the meat and stir well, cooking until the beef has lost its raw, red color.

3. Add the milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. This can take a while. Add the 1/8 tsp of grated nutmeg and stir.

4. Add the wine and let simmer until it has evaporated. This can take a while. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest simmer with occasional bubbles breaking. Cook uncovered for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. If the sauce begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat, add 1/2 C of water to keep it from sticking to the pot. At the end, however, no water should remain and the fat must be separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

5. To serve: toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the final tablespoon of butter. Serve with the freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

Note: You can also use 1 part ground pork, preferably from the neck or Boston butt, to 2 parts beef, and make the meat sauce exactly as described in the basic recipe above.

from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking


5 comments for “Are There Happy Foods?”

  1. […] And here’s what works for me: Refuse to be invisible. Stay social. Spray on cologne. Eat pasta. Do cardio. […]

  2. This looks incredible. I must try it soon!

  3. I’ve been making this since about the time that I posted that comment, and it is my favourite thing. It has replaced mac and cheese as my comfort food, which makes me really sad, because a box of mac and cheese is so much easier to make than this! I finished my last serving on Friday night, and I currently have a double batch simmering on my stove so that I won’t run the risk of not having any when I want it.

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