Weekend Bolognese

I vaguely remember going to an Italian restaurant once and being blown away by a traditional Bolognese sauce. I've never been to Italy, but I hope when I do go I will be greeted with this sauce whenever I walk into a restaurant. Save this recipe for a weekend when you have guests coming over. Make a lasagna or make some spaghetti or splurge and get some fresh pappardelle. This sauce is special. This sauce will change your mind about what a "meat sauce" should taste like.  
Some pointers since I'm sure this recipe isn't perfect:
  • Use a food processor; no one has the knife skills to puree vegetables. Use one or borrow one.
  • Get a really big pot. I'm talking 7 quart dutch oven. I am partial to Le Creuset but any heavy dutch/french oven will do.
  • Do not let it burn. About the time you add the tomato paste, you've waited a long time to brown around 3 lbs of ground meat, which lets you leave the pot to stir, clean up, whatever. But when you add the tomato paste, you need to stir constantly and act a little more quickly because if you burn it, you will hate yourself (I've done it. It sucks. I actually cried once.)
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Weekend Bolognese

Makes: 12 servings

Name of image (title of post is fine)

Prep time:

Cook time:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 red onions, peeled, cut into quarters
  • 3 carrots, peeled, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 3 ribs of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey or pork
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 16 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 bottle of red wine (drinkable, not cooking wine)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Water

  1. Puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste using a food processor. Coat a large pan with oil. Add the pureed mixture and season with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Add the ground meats and season again with salt. Make sure you really brown the meat – don’t just cook through, make sure it’s brown. Approx. 30 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste and cook until just brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Do NOT let it burn here!
  4. Add the entire bottle of wine. Reduce wine by half, another 7 to 8 minutes.
  5. Add water to pan about 1 inch above the meat. Add herbs (bundle bay leaves and thyme for easy removal later). Stir. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  6. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 2.5 cups at a time. Each time you add water, stir, taste, and reduce. Do this 3-4 times for 3.5-4 hours. Do not add a bunch of water all at once. You want to reduce, then taste and season, then add, then repeat in order to develop a lot of complex flavor. Add salt as water will lessen it throughout, but keep tasting it to make sure you season correctly.
  7. You can use this sauce for pasta, lasagna, polenta, etc. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of parmesan cheese.