Chef Roble's Turkey Bolognese

This sauce can be made ahead of time and frozen. Once the sauce has cooled, portion into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to six months. When you are ready, reheat the frozen sauce in a pot – you may have to add a little water, as freezing thickens the sauce even more.  

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2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little extra on the side to cook the turkey
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into small dice
2 medium carrots, washed, peeled, and shredded on a box grater
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
5 cups diced tomatoes from paper carton or glass jar packaging; canned will work too but not ideal
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 lbs penne rigate pasta
8 large basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a bowl, mix together the ground turkey, fennel seeds, oregano, and black pepper and season with salt. Form mixture into 4 patties.


2. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat, brush grates with oil and cook the patties until each side is dark golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove and hold on a tray or plate. It’s okay if the patties are not done inside, as they will cook through in the sauce. If you don’t have a grill or grill pan, the meat can also be seared in a little oil on a sauté pan.


3. Place a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and diced onions and allow to cooked until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add carrot, garlic, thyme and parsley, season with salt and cook for an additional 4 minutes. 


4. Add the grilled turkey patties, tomato and red wine, season with a little more salt. Break up the patties with a wood spoon or spatula. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and allow to simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about the consistency of wet oatmeal.


5. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Season with enough salt that is tastes like sea water. In a rolling boil, add the pasta. Stir the pasta so it doesn’t stick together and allow to boil for 8 to 9 minutes. 


6. Drain the pasta and place back in the pot, add the sauce and stir to combine.


7. Serve in individual bowls or in a large bowl for family style. Top the pasta with grated Parmesan and freshly torn basil leaves.