There are thousand ways to make pasta, and you can be really creative. Take just about any vegetable, toss it with some pasta, add a bit of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and you’ve got a great meal. But…there is something about the classics. Bolognese sauce is a traditional meat sauce, and while there are some standard techniques used, there are as many different versions as there are cooks. I like to make mine heavy on the meat, and relatively light on tomatoes – it’s really more a meat sauce than a tomato sauce. But feel free to take liberties with the recipe, if you don’t have something, don’t worry about it…or be creative and experiment a bit. Hope you enjoy it!!
RECIPE FOR BOLOGNESE SAUCEIngredients for Bolognese Sauce (about 2 quarts)
- 1 lbs ground beef
- 1 lbs ground pork
- 1/4 cup chopped pancetta (optional)
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1 celery stalk diced
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 small can of tomato paste
- 1 16 ounce can whole peeled tomato (crushed in your hands)
- 1/2 cup of red wine
- 1/3 cup of cream or milk
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
The two things I think are going to help you make the best Bolognese sauce possible are:
- Sauté the tomato paste before adding the rest of the tomatoes, or any other liquids. By letting the paste cook out, you deepen the flavor, color and texture, and at the end of the day, that gives the finished sauce more body and deeper flavors
- Use a couple different kinds of meat. They have different flavor and texture and make a more complex sauce.
- Give yourself at least 4 hours to make the sauce…6 is better, and eating it the next day is even better than that. Rich pasta sauces can take time to really come together and this one is no exception. There are plenty of pasta sauces you can make in under 30 minutes…this ain’t one.
- Sauté the carrot, celery, onion and garlic in olive oil (in the pot you’re making the sauce in) until they are soft, and the onions translucent; season with salt and pepper
- Remove the vegetables to a bowl to hold and add the meat to the hot pan; continue to cook until it is all browned, and then drain the fat; season with salt and pepper
- Made some room in the bottom of the pan, and add the tomato paste
- Stir the paste so that is “cooks” on the bottom of the pan for 5 – 10 minutes. The paste will become a darker color as it cooks; eventually you can mix the paste with the meat and continue to cook it
- Add the red wine and stir to combine, let it reduce until it’s just about evaporated
- If you’re using whole peeled tomatoes (like I prefer) crush them in your hands to break them apart
- Add the tomatoes, oregano, thyme. I generally need to also add a couple cups of water to thin out the sauce, you want it to be the consistency of a thick soup
- Cover the sauce and let is simmer for about 2 hours stirring every 30 – 45 minutes or so
- Taste and adjust the seasoning. Sometimes the sauce may be bitter or acidic, if needed you can add some sugar as a counter balance
- After another 2 hours, add the cream and parmesan cheese and stir to combine
- Continue to simmer, uncovered until the sauce reaches the desired consistency
- Taste and adjust the seasoning one more time
You can serve it up with your favorite pasta, maybe a bit of garlic bread and a nice green salad, and you are good to go. Hope you enjoy it!!