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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Makes: 12 servings
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add tomato paste and cook until just brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Do NOT let it burn here!
- Add the entire bottle of wine. Reduce wine by half, another 7 to 8 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- You can use this sauce for pasta, lasagna, polenta, etc. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of parmesan cheese.