Updated: Apr 25, 2021
Pasta bolognese is a classic Italian dish, enjoyed all around the world today. This dish is also one of my daughter's favorites.
Historically, the recipe for this sauce was first seen from 1891, where the original recipe was simpler. This sauce and its many variations have come a long way from this original recipe. More on the history here. Cooking a bolognese is a labor of love, it is not a hard recipe to make, however, it needs time, lots of time. A true bolognese is cooked down multiple times and then re-saturated with liquids, wine, stock, milk/cream and/or tomatoes, allowing the flavors to be both extracted and infused. This is a dish that needs to time to allow the ingredients to come together beautifully. I like to also mix the meats I use for a bolognese. For this recipe, I kept to the original version, but I personally like to mix ground meats, 50% beef chuck, 25% pork, 10% lamb, 10% veal and 5% Italian sausage, make for an interesting flavor These meats have just the right proportion of fatty and non-fatty meats to make a rich and delectable sauce.. Finally, I am concerned for myself (and friends and customers) about the fat content of the dish. To make this dish healthier, I cook it a day before and put it in the fridge at an angle overnight. This causes all the fats to congeal and can be easily scooped out for a much lighter version. This additional time also allows the flavors to further mellow and come together. Marcella Hazan is my favorite Italian cookbook author. I have a number of her cookbooks and I have cooked from them often.
For more recipes from this cookbook click here.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons butter, divided
½ cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
¾ pound ground beef chuck
Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
A pinch nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1-½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, torn into pieces, with juice
1-¼ to 1-½ pounds pasta (preferably spaghetti), cooked and drained
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table
Put oil, 3 tablespoons butter and chopped onion in a heavy 3-½-quart pot and turn heat to medium. Cook and stir onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat well.
Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat with a fork, stir well and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.
Add milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a generous pinch, fresh nutmeg and stir.
Add wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.
Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it will begin to dry out and the fat will separate from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add ½ cup water as necessary. At the end of cooking, however, the water should be completely evaporated and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
Add remaining tablespoon butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.