Every once in a while, I get this nagging craving. It involves pasta, a hearty Bolognese and a glass of wine. If it’s a Sunday morning and there’s a chill in the air, that’s an added plus. I love to prepare this sauce on those lazy days where it can simmer slowly on the stove while I pad over in my slippers every so often to give the pot a stir. It fills the house with its wonderful smell, magnifying our hunger.
Bolognese takes some time…and some love. Enjoy the process. It makes it taste so much better in the end.
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced (See Notes for tip)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 1/2 C. dry white wine
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 C. low fat milk
28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, hard stem end removed, with juices in a bowl
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 – 2 C. chicken broth
In a large heavy pot over medium heat, combine the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Sauté for about 8 minutes or until the onion and celery have softened. Add the garlic and continue to cook for just a minute. Add the ground beef. Cook until the beef has just begun to brown.
Add the wine. Simmer lightly for three or four minutes, then add the allspice, nutmeg, a bit of salt and pepper and the milk. Simmer lightly again for about five minutes. Add the tomatoes and just one cup of the chicken broth. Save the remaining broth to add as the sauce cooks.
Simmer on low heat for five to six hours, stirring every so often and adding more broth as needed. If you have a slow cooker, you can certainly put it in that at this point to simmer all day.
Serves 8 to 10
- An easy way to finely dice a carrot is to first cut a tiny bit off of one side so that the carrot will lay flat on your board. Then cut the carrot lengthwise into fairly thin slices. Cut those into strips, then cut across the strips into a fine dice.
- Traditional Bolognese, from the Bologna region of Italy, is not eaten with spaghetti. That came to be popular in other countries in Europe. In Italy, Bolognese is usually served with a wider pasta like tagliatelle that can really hold up to a meat sauce. It’s also very traditional and wonderful in a lasagna paired with béchamel.
- When serving the Bolognese with pasta, be sure to cook your pasta to al dente, with a little bite left to it. Then, toss the pasta with enough sauce to coat it and allow the pasta to absorb some of it. Serve in bowls and top with a bit more sauce. Don’t skip that step…it makes all the difference. No white pasta with a red blob of sauce in the middle…OK? ;)
- On those days where I’m feeling indulgent, I love to add some pancetta to this. Use about an inch slab of pancetta. I like to freeze it for about thirty minutes to make it easier to cut. Then dice it finely and add it in the very beginning to render the fat out. Once the pancetta is nice and brown, remove it from the pan and continue with the recipe, omitting the butter from the ingredients. Add the pancetta bits back to the pot with the meat.