I’m calling this a bolognese, but I’m not sure it qualifies. There’s no mirepoix (classic combo of onion, carrots, and celery), and I won’t pretend to know whether I left out any other star ingredients. It is, however, a meat-based sauce, and was cooked low and slow until delicious and bubbly on the stove.
Warning: this is not a vegetarian-friendly dish. (No kidding, right?)
First, you’ll need pancetta. I bought a 1/4 lb piece at the deli counter. Just cube it up and brown it in a little oil. (Pancetta renders less fat than bacon, so extra oil is sometimes necessary.)
Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Next, toss in some chopped onion.
This is what I imagine heaven smells like.
For the actual meat mixture I went with a combo of beef, pork, and veal. I know it sounds like overkill, but each meat brings something different and distinctive to the plate. A little fat, a lot of flavor, and all around good variety. Just trust me on this one — it’s delish!
Once the meat is browned, add broth, wine (which I stupidly omitted), tomatoes, and lots of fresh herbs.
Simmer this low and slow until you’re ready to eat. (This could be served in as little as 30 minutes, but I like hearty sauces to linger for awhile.)
I picked up a package of this fun pasta at our local store and it was pretty much the perfect shape for soaking up the sauce and hiding little bits of meat within each bite.
We loved this.
Like, eat-it-by-the-spoonful kind of loved it. And Ethan? Oh my goodness. Bolognese everywhere! I’m not sure why I thought letting him feed himself pasta with red sauce was a good idea, but the huge smile on his face as he devoured dinner helped assure me that the mess was worth it.
Next time I make this — and there will for sure be a next time — I’m biting the bullet and opening a bottle of wine. Not for me, sadly. For the sauce. I’m normally all about cooking with (and drinking) wine, but I selfishly resisted opening a bottle so I wouldn’t be tempted to have any. The only thing this sauce was missing was a richer depth of flavor. The tomato paste was helpful, the mix of three meats was seriously delicious, but it just needed some oomph.
Don’t repeat my mistakes, friends. My recommendation? A wine from Sangiovese (commonly Cabernet Sauvignon blends, though we adore Montalcino), as their higher acidity would pair well with the meat and tomatoes. Aaaand way to go, self, it’s 11:30 am and you’re craving wine.
Enjoy this one guys!
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine.
Yields: 8 servings
Time: 10 min prep, 15 min cooking, 1+ hr simmering
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 lb pancetta, cubed
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb ground beef (or more)
- 1/2 lb ground pork (or more)
- 1/2 lb ground veal (or more)
- 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I omitted this, but would definitely add red — not white — in the future)
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 4 oz tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk
- 1 lb pasta
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- Parmigiano-reggiano cheese for garnish
- In a large frying pan, heat the butter and pancetta over moderately low heat. Cook until the pancetta is crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel lined plate.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes longer.
- Stir in the ground beef, pork, and veal, and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the broth, wine, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes (though longer is better).
- Return the pancetta to the sauce, then stir in cream (or milk, if substituting) and remove from the heat. Add lots of freshly chopped parsley and basil, then serve over pasta. Sprinkle with additional basil and parmesan cheese for garnish.