I’m always up for cooking anything that fills my house with the delicious scent of simmering tomatoes and garlic. That’s why I love making this Bolognese sauce. I usually start it mid–Sunday afternoon so that I can have it for Sunday dinner; then I spend the rest of the afternoon anticipating dinner and enjoying the fragrant smell coming from my kitchen while I catch up on my reading or take a nap.
I originally found this recipe in O, the Oprah Magazine about five years ago. I’ve tweaked it a little to make it a bit juicier, which I’m sure will make Bolognese purists balk, but I like a little more sauce in my sauce.
1 medium onion
1 large carrot
3–4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 stalks celery
1 ounce pancetta, very finely chopped
1 pound ground beef (not lean)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pinch allspice
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
15 ounces diced tomatoes with their juice (I add another 1/2 to 3/4 of a can of diced tomatoes with half the juice to sauce it up a little)
1 pound pasta, such as rigatoni (I use a whole-wheat pasta)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for grating
1. Finely chop onion, carrot, and celery. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat, cook pancetta until all fat is rendered and pancetta is just beginning to brown. Add chopped vegetables, raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and soft. Add garlic and cook until soft, but not brown.
2. Add ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, 1/2 teaspoon salt (to start), plus pepper and allspice. Cook until meat is brown.
3. Add milk. When it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until milk has mostly boiled away, about thirty minutes. Add white wine and cook as with milk, until it has mostly boiled away. Add tomatoes and juice; bring to a simmer. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and allow sauce to cook very gently at barest simmer, two to three hours. Season to taste with remaining salt.
4. Just before sauce is done, bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it generously, and boil pasta according to package directions. Drain, mix with a third of sauce, then serve with remaining sauce on top and lots of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Photo courtesy of flickr user sunshinecity (cc)