I first made this bolognese for my mother for mother’s day. Dear old mum loves a good bowl of spaghetti and meat sauce, but my dad always makes this weird batch of spaghetti sauce à la whatever-he-likes, which tends to be what no one.. else.. likes. It’s an odd thing. Making a giant pot of bolognese for yourself isn’t that satisfying, either, so it was the perfect dish to make to say “Sorry we were totally on vacation during Mother’s Day! We brought you this shiny thing!”
This bolognese sauce is the perfect workhorse sauce: rich, meaty, and full of flavor. It gets a remarkable depth from the long simmer time, but it’s not so long that it’s a full day of a recipe. This bolognese is a perfect weekend dish–hearty and comforting!
I can’t speak to how seriously authentic it is, as I didn’t really eat much bolognese when I was in Italy. The original recipe claims it’s authentic, but, since the author formulated it to his tastes after traveling around Italy, I don’t know if it has Italian grandmama status. Does it matter? NO! It’s seriously awesome. But since we’re doing part of our honeymoon in Italy, I’ll take it upon myself to find out just how authentic the taste is. Someone‘s got to struggle for their art, right? I’ll bear that brunt, carry that cross. For you.
You might not be totally sold on the addition of milk at the end of simmering, but trust me on this! It balances the acidity of the tomatoes beautifully, without making the sauce exactly “creamy”. I used all Italian sausage this go-round, because I halved the original recipe, which calls for both ground pork and ground sausage, and didn’t want to use half packages of ground pork and sauce, but you can switch it up if you like and use a mix you love.
I made my own pasta here, too. Feeling ambitious? It’s not nearly as difficult or time-consuming as you might think! Try David Lebovitz’s recipe before I get around to posting my version.
- 2 slices bacon
- ½ medium onion, chopped fine
- ½ stalk celery, chopped fine
- ½ large carrot, chopped fine
- 2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 4 ounces beef stock
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 (14 ounce) can Italian style crushed tomatoes (or plain, but make sure they're CRUSHED, not diced)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ - ¾ teaspoon rubbed sage
- ½ tablespoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup milk (avoid skim [milk water...])
- pasta for 4
- In a medium heavy-bottomed pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat until butter begins to froth. Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and bacon. Cook until onions are translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Remove bacon and skim out most fat. Chop lean portions of bacon in small pieces and return to pot. Add ground sausage and cook until sausage is browned, breaking up.
- Raise heat and add wine and beef broth. Cook sauce until wine and consomme are mostly evaporated, or at least reduced by half. Turn heat down to simmer and add oregano, salt, pepper, sage, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Let cook for approximately 20 minutes.
- Add crushed tomatoes and bring heat to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer very slowly, partially covered, for about 2 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. The longer the better!
- About 5 to 10 minutes before serving, add milk. Combine freshly cooked pasta and sauce over very low heat and allow pasta to soak up the sauce, a few minutes.