Who doesn’t love a good Bolognese pasta? There are many variations on this classic dish, many of which change from house to house. That is really the beauty of Italian cooking. The ingredients for a traditional Bolognese are very simple: ground beef, pork and often veal, celery, carrots, onion, tomato paste, white wine, milk and salt. Here’s how to put it together.
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
-Extra virgin olive oil or butter
-1/2 pound ground pork
-1/2 pound ground beef
-1/2 pound ground veal (optional). If omitting the veal use 3/4 ground pork and beef
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-1 pound fresh tagliatelle or parpadelle or good quality store bought such as Rustichella
-2 large carrots, peeled and grated with a box grater
-2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
-1 large yellow onion, chopped
-Dry white wine
-Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or butter) over medium high heat. Add the carrots, onion and celery. Lightly salt to help the vegetables break down. Cook for 5-6 minutes (do not brown). Add the tomato paste and stir through.
Add the meats and break apart with a wooden spoon. Let the meat lightly brown on both sides. Cook for 5-6 minutes and stir through once the meat begins to break apart. Add 2 cups of wine. Add a cup and a half of milk. Stir through and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste.
If the liquid begins to evaporate too quickly add a little milk or water and lower the flame. Once everything is nicely cooked and well incorporated drop your pasta. Cook until al dente. I like to pour the pasta into a large bowl and then ladle the Bolognese sauce over it. Remember that pasta should be dressed much like a salad without too much sauce in proportion to the noodles. After plating I will sometime ladle a little extra over the top of each plate. Finish the dish by grating Parmigiano Reggiano over the top of each. Buon apetito!
James is a food writer and Bay Area chef who owns and runs a private dinner party and cooking class business specializing in regional Italian and Spanish cuisine. See CookWithJames.com