You know a dish is really really good when you look forward to leftovers while cleaning the dishes. Another sign that it’s that good is right before cleaning said dishes, you sneak just a little more of the savory sauce from the side of the pan while nobody is looking…you know you’ve done it. This is one of those dishes. Bolognese is often overlooked as just another “red sauce,” but it’s so much more. The flavors in this succulent sauce from Bologna, Italy will blow other “red sauces” out of the water. There are many versions of bolognese, but we created ours by featuring bold flavors we love and incorporating techniques from different recipes, including Anne Burrell’s and Michael Symon’s. It’s a budget friendly meal that is sure to have your family shouting “Bravo!”
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 gloves garlic, chopped
3 cups beef stock
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
Freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. tomato paste
28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes w/ their juices
1 cup red wine
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried herbs (oregano, herbes de provence, rosemary, etc.)
1 lb. pasta (we recommend penne or rigatoni- something that will hold the sauce)
2 tablespoons butter
Place celery, onion, garlic, and carrot in a food processor and blend on high until minced. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Transfer minced vegetables to the dutch oven and add two large pinches of kosher salt. Sauté for about 15 minutes, scraping brown bits from the bottom constantly. No, you’re not burning the bottom, it will deglaze later.
Add the beef and pork and another pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for another 10 minutes, again scraping brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add tomato paste and brown for another 5 minutes. Next, add the wine and scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 3 minutes. Then, add the tomatoes and juice from the tomato can. Crush tomatoes with your stirring spoon and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in three cups of beef stock, bay leaves and dried herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for at least an hour, and up to 6 hours, stirring occasionally. When your sauce becomes thick, add more stock and cook it out again. Repeat this process continually as you cook.
Fill a large stock pot with water and salt liberally. Bring to a boil. Cook pasta just shy of the recommended time on the package. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water when pasta is drained.
Use the reserved pasta water for the final sauce reduction. Once reduced to desired consistency, add the pasta and butter and stir.
Serve and top with parmesan cheese.