While I'm a huge fan of meals that can be quickly and easily prepared while still tasty, there are some culinary delights that cannot be rushed. A good Bolognese is one of them. I made this for the first time on a snowy Manhattan day and have been playing with the recipe ever since. It's comforting, warming, and delicious. Have this one in your repertoire, and you'll make a lot of friends.
This recipe requires some up front work as well as some babysitting along the way. You can multiply it very easily, freezing what you don't eat right away. As with all the recipes on this blog, play with it and make it yours. I changed the original recipe to use ground beef and ground pork, adding lots of flavor.
This is adapted from a recipe by Kyle Phillips, which I found on About.Com. Since I've moved from an area in which I had access to butchers, I recognize that the ground beef and pork will most likely have to be bought in one pound minimum packages. If you don't want to double the recipe, take half a pound of each and place them together into a freezer bag, leaving you with just the right amount of ground beef and pork for the next time you make the sugo!
And now, without further ado:
Sugo alla Bolognese
- 6 ounces (half a pound) ground beef-- not too lean!
- 6 ounces (half a pound) ground pork (if you can't find ground pork, then go for a full pound of ground beef)
- 6 ounces (half a pound) pancetta, minced-- look for the pancetta cubetti, which is already minced for you and is not too fatty; if you can't find pancetta at all, then increase the ground meat
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil (eyeball this as you might not need this much, depending on how fatty your pancetta is)
- half a medium onion, minced
- one carrot, minced
- one large (about 10 inch) stalk of celery, minced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine-- I use Chianti
- 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 carton beef stock or broth (Kitchen Basics makes a really good one, which you can also get unsalted and have no loss of flavor)
- A pinch of kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- A pound of pasta (penne rigate or farfalle work very well)
- Grated parmigiano
If your pancetta is not already minced, mince it and the veggies. Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a Dutch oven, then add the veggies and pancetta. Saute until the onion is translucent.
Add the ground meat and brown. Add the wine, scraping to deglaze the pan. Simmer everything until the wine has reduced.
Add the tomatoes and about a cup of the beef stock. Add the pinch of salt and some black pepper. Reduce the heat to low (as low a flame or setting as you can get and still be cooking) and cover.
I check it roughly every 30 minutes, stirring and adding more stock (or water if you use your full carton of stock) if the sugo starts looking as if it's drying out.
It needs to cook for at least 2 hours. It will have thickened significantly when it's done, and its color will have gone from bright red (from the tomatoes) to a brownish red. You can taste when it's done. Don't worry about letting it cook for more than 2 hours as it will get richer and tastier. I let my last batch cook for 4 1/2 hours.
As a main course, this will serve about 4; as a first course, it will serve about 6.
***This sauce is also perfect for making lasagna.***