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Hearty Meaty Bolognese Pasta Sauce

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This pasta sauce is packed with flavor, serving as a glorious example of cooking with wine.   The mix of beef and pork lightens the meaty taste, allowing the other flavors to come forward into a rich combination unlike most other pasta sauces.

In Italy and Southern France, the Bolognese is as common to pasta restaurants as chili is to American diners.  Most pasta restaurants have a daily pot ready for lunch and dinner time.  Combined with a great red wine, it is hard to go wrong with eating or sharing such a meal.

The recipe is not difficult to make, however, there are two serious challenges to making this sauce.  The first is planning for the long simmering time in today’s busy world.  The second is resisting the incredible smells in your kitchen throughout this long simmering time.  Be warned: waiting for dinner time is a lesson in discipline.  Be assured: your discipline will be rewarded a HUNDRED-FOLD!

This recipe creates a large amount of sauce.  It freezes well, so if you are going to put the time in, you might as well make a lot.  Additionally, when cooking recipes that reduce and blend like this, it usually works better with bigger amounts than trying to nail it with a small portion.

Timing:

Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 3hrs, with stirring every 15 minutes or so
Serves: 12+

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 2 lbs. ground pork
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 6 oz. bacon
  • 5 garlic cloves ( or ~3-4 T. Minced garlic)
  • 2 T. Olive oil
  • 2 Medium onions, minced
  • 2 Celery stalks, minced
  • 2 Medium carrots, minced or shredded
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 15oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 28oz cans tomato sauce
  • Black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the ground meats thoroughly by hand.  Mix in white wine and let sit.
  2. Cut bacon cross-wise into ¼ to ½ strips.  Tip: Place the refrigerated bacon in the freezer while preparing the ground meats to harden it a tad—this will make slicing it much easier.
  3. In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add the bacon and garlic.  Stir often over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add onions and continue stir-cooking for 2 minutes, then add the celery and carrots.  Cook until the combination has softened, about 3 minutes.  Remove the vegetables from the pot until later.
  5. Over high heat, place the ground meat mixture into the pot.  Add salt and stir the meat until browned throughout.
  6. Add the vegetables back to the pot, mixing into the meat.  Lower the heat to medium and continue stirring and cooking until the liquid is all but gone, about 40 minutes.
  7. Add red wine, then stir and cook until the liquid is all but gone (about 40 minutes).
  8. Stir in diced tomatoes, then stir and cook until the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens again (about 40 minutes).
  9. Add one of the cans of tomato sauce, and repeat the reduction drill (about 35 minutes).
  10. Add the last can of tomato sauce, and repeat the reduction drill for the last time (another 30 minutes or so).
  11. Add pepper and more salt to taste.

Notes:

While this sauce takes a long time to cook, you generally visit it every 15 minutes or so to stir—so you aren’t too far away.  This gives you much opportunity to plan your other food preparation accordingly.

The sauce is traditionally served over pasta, though you can certainly mix it with solid vegetables like steamed broccoli if you are skipping the extra carbs.  The classic pasta served with Bolognese is tagliatelle, a narrow fettuchine.  However, any noodle will do, even lasagna—in fact, Lasagna alla Bolognese is a meat lasagna using Bolognese as the meat layer.

Like many stews and soups, this sauce will become tastier served as leftovers the next day.  Enjoy rewarding your discipline!

 

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