Spicy Fettuccine & Beef Bolognese with Zucchini (Blue Apron)

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As sent: **

Hackability: ****

I’m not at all sure what they were thinking with this one.  This is a quick recipe, and it sort of seems like high school lunch room pasta, where the lunch ladies didn’t have much time, and they really wanted to put in a lot of vegetables that don’t really go with the dish.  It tastes like high school lunch, too.  And why is it spicy?  This dish just doesn’t make any sense.

Tasting:

The dish is both chunky and dry.  The ground beef stays in large pieces, the zucchini and the celery are chunky, there are large tomato pieces, and nothing cooks down into a decent sauce.  They say to reserve some pasta water to add at the end, but that won’t do anything to improve a really flawed sauce.  For some reason, this Italian inspired dish has gochujiang in it.  Why, Blue Apron, why?  It was edible, in the sense that maybe you went to a friend’s house, and their teenage son cooked something quick with whatever was around in the kitchen, and you’d be polite, because it wasn’t inedible exactly, but it was just—weird.  I thought I might save some for lunch the next day, but when I returned to the leftovers in the pot, it was dry, congealed, hard—not at all attractive.

Cooking:

Brown the beef in a pan, then add chunks of celery, zucchini, and minced garlic.  Cook that for only 3-4 minutes, then dump in chunky tomatoes in a can, some Italian seasoning, and gochujiang.  Stir that around for 2-3 minutes, then season with salt and pepper, and theoretically, this is ready to serve.  No.  Just…no.

Hacking:

The pasta they send is linguini, not fettucine, but that’s okay.  That is cooked in boiling water, the way pasta is cooked, so that doesn’t really need a hack.  Don’t cook the pasta until the meat sauce is finished, though.

But the sauce…

If you want to use the zucchini and the celery, I recommend doing a brunoise, which is a very, very fine dice (about 1/8 inch).  Also, do a very fine dice of some yellow onion, about 1/3 cup.  Begin the sauce by sautéing the vegetables in some olive oil over very low heat for about ten minutes until the veggies are soft.  Remove to a bowl.

In the same pan, heat some oil and brown the ground beef along with some salt, pepper, and the Italian seasoning.  Aggressively break up the grown beef with a spoon or a spatula as it cooks so that it is as fine as possible.  When it is cooked, drain the excess fat in a colander, then put into a saucepan with the vegetables.

Next, put the canned tomatoes into a food processor to puree.  Add that to the meat and vegetables, along with 1/3 cup dry red wine, 1/3 cup water, and some salt and white pepper.

Let the whole thing simmer, covered, over low heat, for as long as you can.  Every bit of simmering of this dish will actually make it better.

When you are ready to eat, check the seasoning of the sauce, then use a pasta server to get the cooked pasta out of the boiling water and into the sauce without draining.  Mix the pasta and sauce, and if necessary, add a little pasta water to bring the dish to the right consistency.  Serve in bowls, topped with the parmesan cheese.

If you have any fresh basil, garnish with some fresh torn basil leaves.

Save the gochujiang for something else.

2 Comments

  1. Rockin'Robin says:

    LOVE the review but feeling a bit doltish since I have NO idea what “gochujiang” is………

    • Katya Thomas says:

      Oh, gochujiang is Korean chili paste. It is very hot, but also very rich, and is a staple in a lot of popular Korean dishes.

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