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Bolognese Sauce

January 15, 2010

My sister, Kirsten, lives in Bologna, which is “renowned for its culinary tradition” and is the namesake for this sauce.  Also called ragu alla bolognese, it’s a meat sauce that is typically served with homemade tagliatelle (not unlike fettucine).  It’s one of those things I’d always been curious to try, but I’d just never really gotten around to it since I’d heard it takes like 4 hours to make.  You’ll see interpretations of this sauce in just about every Italian-American restaurant, but the original recipe starts with onions, carrots and celery.

The base for this sauce is essentially a kicked-up mirepoix with some bacon.  Bacon really does make everything better.  It’s practically a fact.  Just ask Nate.

This sauce does take a while to make, but most of the time is just spent with a pot simmering on the stove.  Yes, you have to stir it every half hour or so and you can’t go anywhere, but that’s pretty much it.  Then once most of the liquid has evaporated and it is really thick, you reconstitute it with cream (or skim milk, which was all we had and adds no flavor whatsoever. Don’t use skim milk)

I made some fresh pasta that went nicely with the sauce, although I think my sauce-to-pasta ratio was probably a bit off.  This recipe made like four cups of sauce, which would have lasted weeks had I not used it all in something else that you’ll be reading about in maybe a week or so 🙂 .

Bolognese Sauce

(Adapted from How to Cook Everything)

1 onion, minced

1 carrot, minced

1 stalk celery, minced

1/4 bacon or pancetta, diced

1 lb. ground meat (I used venison; you could use half pork and half beef or veal or whatever suits your fancy.)

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup broth

1 35 oz can whole stew tomatoes

1 cup cream, milk or half and half

salt and pepper

Sautee onion, carrot, celery and bacon/pancetta in olive oil until soft in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Add in the ground meat and break it up as it cooks.  Once the meat is thoroughly cooked, add in the wine and increase the temperature to a steady simmer.  Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 5 minutes).  Add in the broth and tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes as they cook.  Let simmer for at least an hour until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is thick.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.  Add in the cream, stir, and let cook for another 15 minutes or so.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    January 19, 2010 10:19 am

    How do you think this would taste with prosciutto?

    • January 20, 2010 3:20 pm

      I’m sure it would be great. Pancetta is traditionally used instead of bacon, although prosciutto would work too, although it is less fatty. You could also fry the proscuitto until it’s crispy and crumble it up on top of the sauce and pasta…. yum!


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