I cannot, for the life of me, recall if I’ve posted this recipe. It’s my very very very favorite recipe for Bolognese Sauce– which basically is nothing more than a meaty Italian pasta sauce. In Bolognese, the meat is the star of the show.
My recipe is an amalgam of my grandmother’s Bolognese, my mother’s Bolognese, both of my daughters’ Bolognese, and my own original vegetarian version of Bolognese, so as you can see, the recipe has transformed over the years. This is the current version. I’m sticking with it.
Julia’s Bolognese Sauce
2 large carrots
3 large stalks celery, with leaves if they are fresh
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
1 small shallot
Chop the above vegetables coarsely and put in food processor. Process until finely chopped. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, saute either:
3 thick slices bacon, chopped, or 1/4 lb. Prosciutto or Pancetta, or 1/4 lb. Guanciale
When the meat is cooked through and the fat is rendered out, remove from pot and set aside. Add 2 generous Tbs. olive oil and saute the chopped vegetables.
Cook the vegetables over medium heat, allowing them to soften and caramelize- about 15-20 minutes. (Low and slow is the way to make a rich and tasty Bolognese.) Add 1 lb. ground chuck and 1 lb. ground round. Continue to cook, breaking up the meat until it is very fine. Cook 15-20 minutes, allowing the meat to brown nicely. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I usually add 1-2 tsp. Kosher salt at this point.)
Return bacon to the pot along with 1/2 tsp. dried thyme and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg. Stir through. Add 1 large can or 1 cup tomato paste along with 1/2 cup water. Stir though and cook 3-4 minutes. Add 1 cup white wine and 1 cup whole milk or half and half. Stir. Add another 1/2 – 1 tsp. Kosher salt and 2 bay leaves. Add just enough water to cover and reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cover pot and simmer for 2-4 hours, adding water only if necessary. The sauce should be thick, not watery.
Before serving remove bay leaves. Taste to check seasonings. Just before serving I stir in 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Serve with any pasta you like, a crusty bread, a salad and additional Parmesan.
This recipe serves eight.Maybe ten. Sometimes I use fresh thyme – just tie a bunch with twine and toss it into the pot. I remove the bundle before serving. While you may be tempted to use leaner cuts of meat, the recipe will not taste right. A good Bolognese needs fat. If you decide to make the sauce, let me hear! Julia