Before we get started I know they`re purists out there who`ll argue that this isn`t a classic version of Bolognese sauce and well, they`ll be right. This simple man has modified a few ingredients to his liking & do believe this is the Best Ever Bolognese. Rich, meaty, tomatoey (not sure it`s a word but I like it.) goodness tossed with your favorite pasta, how can you go wrong!
Historically “classic“ Bolognese sauce is an Italian meat-based sauce for pasta which originates in Bologna, a city in Northern Italy. A thick, full-bodied meat sauce that’s a staple of northern Italy’s Bologna. The term alla Bolognese on a menu designates a pasta or other dish sauced with ragù, which is a meat based sauce. So far so good, I`m falling in line with this description. “Classic“ Bolognese sauce includes a small amount of tomatoes or tomato paste in a rich sauce with meat and other ingredients. Here I strayed a bit as I like more tomato. The base of Bolognese sauce is a soffrito, an assortment of aromatic and flavorful vegetables such as celery, onions, and carrots fried in olive oil and butter. I`m using the soffrito vegetable mix but browned mine in a little bacon grease. Next, chunks of meat such as beef and pancetta are added to the soffrito to brown. In concept I did this but used bacon instead of the pancetta & also added Italian Pork Sausage to the meat mix. A dash of milk or cream is added and the mixture is briefly stirred before white wine is poured in and the sauce is allowed to reduce, concentrating the flavor and creating a rich broth. I left out the milk as I think it tends to dull the flavors but added fresh Parmesan to melt into the sauce at the end. In addition I subbed red wine for the white. The Bolognese sauce is stirred and then simmered gently until the meat breaks down. Yes, definitely didn`t change a thing here, time is your friend with this sauce. So you`re probably over my rambling but thought I`d quickly admit my divergence from what`s considered “classic“. It`s my Bolognese & I`m standing by it.
A quick note, I like to make big batches of this sauce as it freezes well. Cut down proportionately if you want less sauce. This simple man`s plan to better eating today is Best Ever Bolognese & here`s what you`ll need:
Tomatoes- 128 oz can, chopped or whole
Carrots- 1 1/2 cups diced
Celery- 1 1/2 cups diced
Onion- 1 1/2 cups diced
Bacon- 8oz diced, browned & crisped
Lean Ground Beef- 2 lbs
Italian Sausage- 1 lb casings removed
Garlic-6 cloves minced
Crushed Red Pepper- 1 Tablespoon (optional)
Fennel Seed- 1 Tablespoon
Sugar- 1/2 Tablespoon
Red Wine- 1 bottle (Chianti)
Beef Stock-1 cup
Bay Leaves- 4
Rosemary- 2 Tablespoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried
Oregano- 2 Tablespoons fresh or 2 teaspoons dried
Basil- small bunch chopped plus extra to garnish
Parmesan Cheese- 1/2 cup grated plus more to garnish
Salt to tasteThe key players.
Heat a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat & brown your diced bacon until crisp. Remove to drain on paper towels. Discard all but 2 Tablespoons of the rendered bacon grease.You`re going to get some practice with your knife skills. Dice the onion, celery & carrots. Add the soffrito to the stock pot & reserved bacon grease, stir & cook 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic & cook for a minute more.In goes the meat. Add the ground beef, Italian Sausage, crushed red pepper & Fennel seeds to the veggie mix. Stir & brown well, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon.
To the meat-soffrito mixture add the red wine, beef stock, bacon, sugar, rosemary, oregano, bay leaves & basil. Cover & simmer for 3 hours stirring occasionally.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese & simmer another hour or so uncovered. Adjust seasoning to taste. Mean while cook your preferred pasta according to directions. Drain & add to your desired amount of sauce tossing well. This is going to be so good!
Plate and garnish with basil & shaved or grated Parmesan. Serve & enjoy your Best Ever Bolognese!!