My Comfort Food

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Categories: Food & Dining

It’s finally autumn, and with all that’s going on in the world, I think we could all use some comforting. For me, I find it easier to get my mind off my own troubles by focusing on gratitude and ways to encourage others. We’re nearing the holidays, and we could probably use some fresh ideas for comforting family, friends, or the dog, if that’s all you feel like comforting. My favorite way to provide comfort is through food, and when I cook for my loved ones, my own troubles seem to become obsolete. So, I’m going to share one of my favorite comfort foods…. White Bolognese. I’ve been to Bologna, Italy several times, and learned the traditional method of making Bolognese sauce made with tomatoes, beef broth, and red wine. It’s a staple in the Emilia Romana region of Italy, and will always hold a special place in my heart (and tummy). But there’s another Bolognese in town, and it’s white. Well, actually, it’s just lighter in color, but it’s made with pork, chicken stock, white wine, and cream. It’s seasoned with flavors that are comforting, like oranges, sage, and fennel. It’s also very versatile because it’s not only a perfect sauce for pasta; it can be thinned down with more chicken stock and made into a soup that is sure to comfort anyone, no matter what their troubles. I’ve even gotten creative and mixed it up with cream cheese for a dip to go with tortilla chips, because frankly, I have an obsession with chips dipped into anything. It’s also a great sauce to pour over baked potatoes or hash brown potatoes. If you know me, then you won’t be surprised when I suggest pouring it over scrambled eggs because almost everything goes well with scrambled eggs at my house. Are you getting the idea that this sauce is like magic? I assure you that if you try this recipe before the year’s end, you’ll thank me for it, and so will those you are comforting, including the dog. I wish each of you a very happy Thanksgiving this year, and I hope you find many things to hold dear and be thankful for.

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Rigatoni with White Bolognese

Serves 8 - Bolognese is traditionally made with slow-simmered beef and rich tomato sauce, but I’ve broken that tradition with this version that isn’t often found in Italy. Every ingredient in this sauce brings a unique element of flavor that blends perfectly, and is particularly perfect on a chilly day. Tossed with pasta, it makes a perfect one-pot meal, but I’ve also made it into a soup by adding more chicken stock and leaving out the pasta. Any way you serve it, you’re going to love this version.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half 
  • 1 white onion, chopped

  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed and chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 pounds ground pork

  • 6 ounces white mushrooms, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/3 cup orange juice

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 1/2 cup cream

  • Zest of one orange

  • 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta

Prepare one medium-sized (10”) and one large skillet on the stove by heating to medium-high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to each skillet.  In the smaller skillet, add the onion and fennel.  In the larger skillet add the ground pork, breaking it up and spreading it to cover the bottom of the pan.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper to each.  Let the onion and fennel cook until softened, then add garlic and mushrooms. 

Cook until liquid from the mushrooms has mostly evaporated.  Meanwhile, break up the pork as it cooks, but don’t let it get browned. When the pork is done, add the onion mixture and combine.  Add sage, wine, orange juice, and chicken stock.  Cook, uncovered for 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced and sauce has thickened.  You may need to cook a few minutes longer to reduce it enough.  Add cream, orange zest and Parmesan, and stir.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, bring 8 cups of water to a boil.  Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add pasta and stir. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain off the rest.  Add pasta to the sauce and stir, adding in the reserved pasta water.  Garnish with more Parmesan and sage. 

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