Bolognese is more than just a “meat sauce”. It is thicker, meatier, and richer than my usual go to sauce. It’s usually a combo of beef, veal, and pork and is finished with milk or cream. It’s more of an Italian “stew” than a sauce. This is a classic recipe from Emeril Lagasse that really like. Bolognese takes a little more time and love than a basic meat sauce but it is worth it and makes a great family Sunday dinner!
With any Italian dish that calls for tomatoes, you want to make sure that you use a good brand. I like using imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes in my Italian recipes. This is one of the brands I like:
This recipe starts with some diced pancetta or bacon. I used bacon because it’s what I had on hand but I love using diced pancetta as well. After you crisp up the bacon, you saute a mix of onions, carrots, and celery in the rendered bacon fat…hello flavor!
This recipe serves 8 (with 2 pounds of pasta) or 4-6 with one pound and left over sauce to save/freeze.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (one medium onion)
- 3/4 cup diced carrots
- 3/4 cup diced celery
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh if you have it)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound ground veal
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup half and half or whole milk
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 pound spaghetti
- freshly grated Parmesan for serving
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beef, pork, and veal, and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Add the can of crushed tomatoes, beef broth, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer (uncovered), stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the half and half or milk, stir well and simmer for a couple more minutes. Discard the bay leaves and taste for seasoning, you may need a little more salt depending on the type of broth that you use. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return the water to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes, then drain put back in the pot or in a serving bowl.
Add a cup or 2 of the sauce to the pasta, tossing to coat. Top with chopped parsley and serve with extra sauce and cheese.