CH loves pasta, especially with a good meat sauce. I actually remember one of the first dinners I made him and it was a stuffed tortellini dish with meat sauce. I baked it with cheese and that may have been the point where he fell in love with me! We also had the opportunity to travel through Italy for 3 weeks in 2009 and I remember one of our favourite meals was in Siena. It was this small family run place, it was hard to find in a little alley and they served the most amazing bolognese sauce – literally, we couldn’t stop eating it. I think this is when we fell in love with Italy! I have been on the hunt to recapture that flavour and the feeling of being in Italy and it has taken many recipes and trails until I finally found this one, which feature a few changes of my own! I know everyone has their own bolognese sauce, but please try this one – at least once! I have confidence it will change your go-to recipe!
Although it takes a bit of time to make this sauce (just the simmering part) it is TOTALLY worth the time. I also think the biggest difference to this sauce is having the meat grinder attachment for our KitchenAid, it makes fresh ground meat so much easier and the sauce that much tastier! But, don’t worry if you don’t have a grinder, store-bought ground meat still does the trick and is how I made it before my meat grinder and KitchenAid came around!
So, get this on the stove and don’t taste test till it’s ready – trust me when I say it is worth the wait!
Bolognese Sauce – Ragu Alla Bolognese
Yield: About 6 servings
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: At least 3-4 hours (the more simmering the better – the longer the sauce simmers, the richer the flavour!)
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 125 g (5 oz.) prosciutto
- 2 onions, diced
- 1/2 cup, diced carrot
- 1/2 cup, diced celery
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) red wine
- 125 g (4 oz.) lean ground pork (I use picnic pork)
- 375 g (13 oz.) ground beef (I use top sirloin)
- 800 g (1 3/4 lb.) canned tomatoes (diced or pureed with immersion blender)
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 750 ml (3 cups) beef stock
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 or 3 sprigs of basil
- 3 tbsp. cream (optional)
Dice the prosciutto into small pieces.
Heat olive oil and butter in a large dutch oven or stock-pot over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and sauté until slightly crisp.
Prepare your mirepoix or in other words, dice the onion, celery and carrots (don’t forget to remove the “strings” from the celery before chopping). I usually hand-chop the veggies, but you can use a food processor but be sure not to over dice the mixture.
Add the onion, carrot and celery mixture to the prosciutto and continue to sauté over medium-low heat; sweat the vegetables until they colour slightly (about 5 to 10 minutes).
Add the garlic to the pot, stir well with a wooden spoon and continue to cook for a minute or two.
Add in the ground meats and cook over medium heat, breaking the meat up with your wooden spoon until there are no large clumps. Season meat mixture with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until no pink in the meat remains.
Once meat is cooked through, deglaze the pan with red wine. Increase the heat slightly and cook the mixture until the wine has mostly evaporated.
Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste and 1/2 cup of beef broth to the meat mixture. Stir well.
Season with the bay leaves and basil and stir well. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil.
Once sauce has reached a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and let simmer for two to three hours, adding 1 ladle of beef broth every 1/2 an hour or so!
After two hours of simmering, remove the lid and continue to simmer for an additional 2 hours (or longer if you have time!)
If you are using cream (I do!), add it in about an hour before you plan to serve.
Remove the bay leaves and basil stems before serving.
Even though this sauce is usually paired with spaghetti, it is also good with tagliatelle or lasagna. Top with fresh parmesan and enjoy with a nice glass of Italian wine!
Adapted From: Flavors of Emilia-Romagna
Note: This also makes a delicious sauce for your homemade lasagna!