Pasta Bolognese

A lazy Sunday is instantly made better by the smell of Bolognese sauce simmering away on the stove. The two main ingredients in this dish are love and time. This isn’t something to decide to whip up on a weeknight last minute; though I have to say, Ina Garten has the best recipe for bolognese in under an hour.

I knew I was doing something right when it smelled as though my Grampy was the one in the kitchen doing all the work. Bolognese traditionally includes pancetta, though I used a thick cut bacon instead. I unfortunately also ran into some technical difficulties with our blender, so the veggies did not puree as well as I would have liked, but the flavors were still there. Don’t rush the first few steps for really browning the veggies and meat. If anything, you should increase the times over a lower heat to really create rich flavors.

This recipe also makes for an amazing leftovers meal and is the perfect way to avoid the rain on your lunch break.

Pasta Bolognese

  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4″ wide pieces
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt
  • 1 pound ground beef (lean)
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 3 cups red wine (I used a very cheap merlot)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • water
  • 1 pound dried pasta
  • fresh basil, for serving
  • parmesan cheese, for serving

Start by frying up the bacon in a large Dutch oven or sauce pot. While it’s getting nice and crispy, toss the shallots, carrots, celery, and garlic into a food processor or blender and puree. Once the bacon’s done, remove it from the pan and set aside on a paper towel to drain. Add the puree to the pot with the bacon fat and plenty of salt and brown over medium heat for 15 minutes. You’ll want to cook out all of the water in the puree and have all of the bacon fat absorbed, the food should be getting nice and brown to develop flavor.

Add the ground beef and veal to the pot and continue to brown for another 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure everything is well mixed and continue to add salt as needed. When the meat is browned, drain the fat then add the bacon back in along with the tomato paste. Mix the tomato paste in and continue to brown for another 5 or so minutes.

Now that you have a good flavor base going, add the tomato sauce and the wine and bring the sauce up to a simmer. When the liquid has reduced by half add three cups of water along with the bay leaves and dried thyme. Bring everything back up to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover.

Allow the sauce to continue simmering for a minimum of 4 hours. Check in every so often and add more water if it is needed.

When you’re roughly half an hour away from dinner time, bring a big pot of salty water up to a boil. When it’s boiling, add the dried pasta and cook 1-2 minutes less than what the package directions state. Before draining, reserve roughly a 1/2 cup of the pasta’s starchy, salty water.

Add the pasta and the pasta water to the sauce and make sure the pasta is mixed in well. Continue to simmer until the pasta water has reduced out and then serve with fresh basil and grated cheese.


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