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I made bolognese

This is one of those dishes I have always wanted to make but never got around too. I read a bunch of recipes and decided this must be one of those dishes where everyone has their own recipe so i took the common ingredients and made it myself.

Pound of Ground beef
pound of ground pork
3 oz of panchetta
1/2 large onion
2 celery stalks
1 large carrot (it was really big or I would have used 2)
4 microplaned cloves of garlic
1 cup chardonay
2/3 cups chicken stock
1 big can of Cento pureed tomatoes
1/2 cup whole lactose free milk
salt and pepper to taste

brown the meat all at once
throw the veg in after the meat is done and cook together for about 5 more minutes (lots of fond on the bottom)
grade the garlic and stir for a minute max
deglaze with wine, scrape up all the good stuff and cook until it is almost gone
pour in chicken stock and tomato puree
Covered and simmered for 3.5 hours stirring occasionally

Tasted it when it was done and it was real tasty. I almost did not put the milk in, but I read that it really makes a difference so I threw caution to the wind and I am really glad I did. Stirred in almost al dente paste so it would finish in the sauce and served it up.

Wife had two helpings which sh never does. Both teenage boys ate three helpings. One of whom is very picky. My wife stopped the other from disappearing into his room with the entire bowl of leftovers as a before bed snack a couple hours later.

I would say it worked out well.


Oddly enough, I was just talking to my wife about how it's been too long since I last made a good Bolognese. Here's the recipe I follow for the most part:

1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
4 cloves garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
Kosher salt
3 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination
2 cups tomato paste
3 cups hearty red wine
3 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
A bit of milk or cream
High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing

In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.

Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. BROWN THE BEEF! Brown food tastes good. Don't rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.

I like wider or tubular pastas with this sauce.

Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don't be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will). Simmer for 2 to 4 hours.

Note how that recipe does not include milk or cream. I've read that one should add only enough milk or cream to enrichen the sauce properly and lighten the color a bit, but not so much that someone might say "hey, there's dairy in this thing." So, I add a little at a time until I think it's right. A light hand is called for, since you can't take it out. There's a place near my house that I love, but they put so much dairy in their Bolognese that it's damn near a cream sauce. It's good, but all that dairy washes out some of the meaty character.

Also note the optional Parmigiano Reggiano. That's what one recipe suggested as dairy. It's a very good sauce--very good--although not quite authentic. Still, it's very good and a bit extravagant. Of course, PR is marvelous to top it all off.

I've actually found that we tend to enjoy a shorter simmer of around 2-2.5 hours as opposed to the more typical 3.5-4 hours. This recipe does so much cooking on the front end that the sauce really starts flattening out after a couple hours or so. It's a shame to go through all that work and time to get a flat sauce.

And, mind your salt. This sauce needs salt, but you can overdo it. It's good to salt a bit at each stage (browning the veg; browning the meat; start of simmer), tasting all the time. Be light on the salt at the beginning of the simmer, taste it at the end, and then add more if needed. It's actually easy to overdo it, and then you've just wasted half a day.


I will be making this tonight! I will report back with how things go.
Now did it go? I only found this thread today and I wish that I had found it earlier. The good thing is that I have some new recipes to try out in the not to distant future.