Emily Blunt, star of The Quiet Place and Oppenheimer and wife to The Office’s John Krasinski, recently joined her good friend Ina Garten to make some favorite dishes. She shared with Ina that she has the same challenge as many parents: getting her two kids to eat their vegetables. This is a problem she cleverly solves with her recipe for meaty, savory turkey bolognese.
She cooked the dish with Ina on Be My Guest (and how she managed to do this in a gorgeous puffy, orange gown without getting a speck of food on her, we’ll never know). While we know Ina loves a good weeknight bolognese with ground sirloin, Blunt’s recipe swaps out the traditional ground beef for lighter ground turkey. The turkey then simmers in a rich sauce with Parmesan cheese and is tossed with twisty pasta. The carrots, celery and onion in the recipe are diced finely in a food processor; once cooked, they melt down and “hide” in the sauce.
The sauce can be cooked on the stove or in the oven, however, Blunt says she loves how oven-cooking makes the bolognese extra “caramelly and yummy.” It also makes the recipe more hands-off and easier to manage even on the busiest of nights.
How to Make Emily Blunt’s Turkey Bolognese
The actress’s recipe takes about an hour and 15 minutes from start to finish—but most of that time is spent in the oven. The recipe makes four to six servings.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 small or 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 cup Italian white wine, such as pinot grigio
6 ounces tomato paste
1 cup whole milk
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 Parmesan rind
16 ounces fusilli (or other twisted short pasta like rotini or rotelle)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Editor’s Note: We chose 80% lean ground turkey because it’s easier to find in stores, but Emily uses dark ground turkey in her recipe.
Step 1: Saute the veggies
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Add the carrots and celery to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the processor until they’re very finely chopped.
Heat two tablespoons of butter and the olive oil in a large, shallow, oven-proof skillet that has a lid (like a Le Creuset braiser) over medium-high heat. Add in the chopped onions; stir and saute them for about two minutes until they begin to soften and look translucent. Add in the chopped carrots and celery; saute them for two more minutes, then add in the minced garlic. Cook the ingredients for another two minutes.
Step 2: Add the turkey and next ingredients
Crumble the ground turkey into the pan. Cook the meat, stirring, until it’s browned—about eight to 10 minutes. Pour in the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Once the wine is reduced, add the tomato paste, milk and bay leaves. Simmer and stir everything for about three to four minutes. Taste the sauce and add in salt and pepper until it tastes balanced. Tuck the Parmesan rind into the sauce.
Editor’s Tip: Don’t worry if this sauce looks more dry than liquid—it’s supposed to! Emily Blunt learned from her famous brother-in-law Stanley Tucci (host of Searching For Italy) that a traditional bolognese is a dryer sauce. (By the way, if you haven’t tried the Stanley Tucci Negroni, it’s the perfect aperitif to enjoy while making bolognese!)
Step 3: Simmer in the oven
Put the lid on the skillet and slide it into the oven. Cook the sauce for 45 minutes, stirring it once halfway through.
Step 4: Cook the pasta
Just before the sauce is finished, cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Reserve one cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and then put it back in the pot. Add to it the remaining tablespoon of butter, the grated Parmesan and the reserved pasta water. Stir everything together to coat the pasta.
Step 5: Finish the dish
When the sauce is done, pull the skillet from the oven and remove the lid. Remove and discard the bay leaves and the Parmesan rind. Pour the cooked pasta mixture into the pan and stir to coat the noodles with the Bolognese sauce. (If the sauce seems too thin, put the skillet over medium heat for a few minutes to thicken it.) Spoon portions of the pasta into bowls, top them with more grated Parmesan, and serve immediately.
Here’s What We Thought
This slow-simmered sauce is really delicious! It’s full of flavor from the tomato paste, vegetables and cheese, and from the caramelizing effects of the oven on the ingredients. We found ourselves going back for seconds—and thirds. While Emily adds only salt, pepper and bay leaf to her sauce, other seasonings that will work well are red pepper flakes or a pinch of Italian herb blend. For a more intense tomato flavor, look for double-concentrated tomato paste in cans or tubes.
Blunt prefers to use ground dark meat turkey in her recipe. If this isn’t available at your store, we found that 80% lean ground turkey worked well in this dish. If you have a meat grinder, you can also make your own from boneless turkey thighs.
If the Emily Blunt episode of Be My Guest made you want to cook Ina recipes all week long, Emily says this Ina Garten chicken got her a marriage proposal!
The post We Made Emily Blunt’s Turkey Bolognese and It’s the Ideal Family Dinner appeared first on Taste of Home.