Monday, September 29, 2008

Bolognese...Who Knew?

For years I have heard of "Bolognese" sauce, but didn't actually know what it was. I have made "spaghetti" sauce since I was a teenager (before dirt). Back then in the typical WASP household that meant a meat flavored tomato based sauce...emphasis on tomato and usually very saucy. This weekend I decided to venture past my spaghetti boundaries and research bolognese and try it. It was worth seeking out the new.

Bolognese sauce, as the name would lead you to assume, is from Bologna, Italy. It consists of more meat than tomato, and, as a result, is very hardy. The sauce typically has several types of meat. It often has chicken or goose liver added, but I opted out of that one. I looked at several different recipes for the sauce, and then , as I often do, took what I liked from each and went to work. The result was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. But then, it is pretty hard to go wrong with pasta, meat, and tomatoes.


1 medium onion chopped
3 large cloves garlic minced
3 oz. pancetta chopped
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 stalk celery chopped
1 cup carrots grated
8 oz. mushrooms sliced (I used crimini but porcini would be good)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomato
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup water with 1 TBS Kitchen Bouquet added (you could use beef broth but I felt this gave
it a richer back flavor)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. pasta...traditionally this is served with a short pasta...I used the Dreamfields penne pasta,
but, hey, if you want to use spaghetti, go for it

You really need a good sized, 5 or 6, quart pot for this. In the pot put in the EVOO. Add the onions, garlic and pancetta. Saute until the pancetta is fairly crisp. Remove the mixture from the pot and set aside. You could do this in a separate skillet, but I just hate having more pans to clean. And you get the added benefit of a little flavor already in the pot. Now, brown the ground beef and sausage. Toss in the rest of the veggies along with the pancetta/onion mixture, mix well, and cook for 5 or 10 minutes to let the flavors blend. Next, add in the tomato products, the wine, and the water/Kitchen Bouquet mix. Stir until mixed well. Let this simmer for about an hour with the lid on. After an hour remove the lid and add the herbs, salt and pepper. Mix again, leave the lid off and simmer for about another hour.

When you feel you have this cooked to your liking (it should be very thick, not runny), cook the pasta al dente, drain, dump it on a big platter (well, you could use a bowl, but I really love the presentation on a platter), and cover with the sauce. For added color and a little extra boost in flavor, top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and a basil chiffonade. Oh, so pretty! Not to mention yummy. This will definitely fill tummies to capacity. Enjoy!

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