this week | april 15th, 2021

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(I wrote) an ode to pollen

(I read) Low-Rise Jeans Are Back to Ruin Your Life by Leah Abrams

So Leah got her piece published in McSweeney’s!

(I cooked) Bolognese Sauce

So this is one of my go-to lunches that I make en masse. I freeze my sauce in Talenti jars and will take out one per week—just enough for 2–3 lunches.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, chili flakes, dried oregano, bay leaves
  • Italian sausage, ground beef, ground pork, ground whatever you want
  • 1–2 carrots (more carrot = more sweetness)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 stalks of celery (I like celery)
  • Whatever mushrooms you have
  • As much garlic as you want
  • A jar of Rao’s (recommend getting it from Costco)*
  • A 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes and/or any loose tomatoes you have hanging out in the fridge. Tomato paste is cool too.
  • Balsamic vinegar, miso, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, or any other fun things you got hanging out
  • Milk if you want to add some creaminess
  • Any opened bottles of wine in your fridge or unopened bottles in your pantry

Step 0: Sourcing Good Ingredients

Not only is this delicious but it cleans out your fridge and freezes well for (relatively) quick weekday lunches.

Step 1: Chop Things Up and Fry Them

I love chopping veggies, so I love this dish. Mince your veg. You’ve got a lot to chop so this is the perfect thing to do if you’re in a boring Zoom meeting and can turn off video.

Step 2: Slow Cook

I like to let it simmer for 2–3 hours minimum. I also keep the lid off for most of that time so it’s able to reduce and thicken.

Step 3: How to Serve

I’ve tried one pot/pan strategies which result in fewer dishes to clean, but if you want to make it the best way possible, here’s how to do it:

  • Night before, get that sauce in the fridge to thaw.
  • One pot going with salted boiling water for your pasta.
  • Frying pan on medium with olive oil. Infuse with chili flakes and chopped olives (these days I don’t bother with the olives, but it’s really good with them).
  • Spoon in your bolognese. You want that sauce to sizzle and fry (but you don’t want the pan too hot so that it splatters everywhere).
  • Turn the sauce down to low and stir. When the pasta’s almost done, spoon a bit of starchy pasta water into your sauce. Don’t turn it into soup like the people at Il Forno in West Union do.
  • Instead of timing my pasta I just routinely grab a noodle and taste it and when it’s almost done (al dente) it’s time to come out.
  • Strain out your pasta but save the hot starchy water since that will clean off all your pasta saucy pans and surfaces really easily.
  • Turn the heat off on your sauce and dump in your strained pasta. Mix it good.
  • If you live in Chicago or have a Potbelly’s nearby, get a jar of hot Italian giardinera (the spicy oil preserved one, not the watery fake grocery store giardinera they have here in Virginia) and spoon some in.
  • Grate some pecorino romano on top.
  • Enjoy.

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Brian Lin

Brian Lin

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Brian Lin is a writer, runner, and stray cat lover. A recent Duke grad in CS and English, he is a software engineer by day and a typewriter poet by night.