This is another rendition of the many Bolognese sauces I prepare on any given lazy Sunday when I have plenty of time on my hands and John has a hankering for pasta with a robust meat sauce. It’s very hearty, it makes for vast quantities and it freezes criminally well. I’ve utilized this sauce as pizza base and it’s a total show stopper. There’s not much to be said as this ragù speaks volumes for itself.
1 cup of chopped thick apple wood smoked bacon or pancetta
½ LB of ground lose pork sausage or removed from casings
½ LB of ground sirloin
¼ LB of veal
1 cup of sweet Vidalia onion – finely chopped
3 shallots – finely chopped
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP butter
½ small diced carrots
½ cup of small diced celery
3-4 garlic cloves – chopped finely
2 bay leaves – preferably fresh
1 TSP of dried Italian herbs
¼ TSP of nutmeg – freshly grated
¼ TSP ground cinnamon
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 cup of red wine – preferably Italian
1 cup of chicken stock
1 24 oz can of whole San Marzano – placed in a bowl with their juice and crushed by hand, removing their core
1 14 OZ can of tomato puree
½ TSP red pepper flakes
2 TBSP of Turbinado sugar
Bunch of fresh basil – ½ left whole and ½ chopped for garnish
¼ cup of low fat or whole milk
½ cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano
Pasta – Fresh Linguini or spaghetti
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and render out the pancetta or bacon, about 5-6 minutes. Add the chopped onion, shallots, garlic and sweat for 2-3 minutes, then incorporate the carrots, celery, bay leaves, Italian seasonings, tomato paste, nutmeg, cinnamon and cook stirring for about 5 minutes, till slightly softened. Throw in the ground meats and cook until caramelized, brown and crumbly. Deglaze with the wine removing any browned bits from the bottom, reducing for about a minute or two on high.
Add the tomatoes with their liquid, the stock and the red pepper flakes. Season with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, simmering on very low for about 1½ hours. Stir a few times. Incorporate the milk, butter, whole basil stalks and simmer for another ½ hour.
While the sauce simmers for the last ½ hour, cook the pasta. My choice is fresh pasta but dry is fine here too. Drain (reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water) and return to the pot adding a generous ladle of the Bolognese and mix well, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water. Serve in deep pasta bowls with a dollop the ricotta cheese, a chiffonade of fresh basil and some chopped pistachios for some crunch.
Please do yourself a massive favor and don’t acquire any nutmeg already ground. The moment it’s ground from the nut it has lost all its flavor, it starts to turn stale and it has absolutely no comparison to freshly grated nutmeg.
The sauce is better cooked the previous day to allow the flavors to marry, just like day-old spaghetti is outstanding and so are meatballs, this Bolognese follows suit. The dollop of ricotta may sound nonconforming but it makes the dish even creamier and luscious. Instead of the ricotta sometimes substitute for ricotta salata to give my Parmegiano-Reggiano a rest