Essential Pasta Sauces

Bolognese Meat Sauce

Bolognese Meat Sauce

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Courtesy of Nick Stellino’s Glorious Italian Cooking

Serves 4 to 6

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
1 large bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 oz finely diced prosciutto
1/4 lb ground veal
1/4 lb ground lamb
1/4 lb ground beef
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chicken or beef stock
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan set on high heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaf, sage, and basil and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Raise the heat to high, add the prosciutto, veal, lamb and beef and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the wine, reduce the heat to medium and let it cook until almost evaporated, about five minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring twice.

If you like your sauce thicker, remove the cover during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Taste for salt and pepper.

When combining the sauce with pasta (fresh egg pasta like tagliatelle or pappardelle is a typical pairing), finish the dish with a sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano.

Cook’s notes:

  • Go light on the red pepper flakes to start. It can sometimes be too spicy depending on the heat of your flakes.
  • If you can’t find or don’t want to use ground veal, we recommend using equal portions of ground chuck and ground lamb. Ground pork will give the sauce a “sausage taste” that is undesired here.
  • The bolognesi will tell you that the vegetables must be diced very finely so that they “melt” into the sauce.
  • For a more decadent sauce (and to mellow out some of the sharper flavors), add a splash or two of half-and-half or heavy cream when you combine the pasta and sauce.
  • If you have leftover sauce, remove the bay leaf before refrigerating because it can cause bitterness.

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