Ragù Bolognese is, in my opinion, the reigning king of pasta sauces. Sure, there are other splendid ways to dress a noodle, but to me none are as decadent as this slow cooked meat sauce. This is a flavor which could never come from a jar. It is special enough that I’ve only made it two or three times, including today.
And when I say “special enough” what I mean is “Holy Emmenthaler, but this takes forever to cook.” From start to finish, today’s batch took eight and a half hours of prep and cook time. This is a dish you make when you’re already planning to spend all day indoors. Thankfully I work from home (my keyboard a mere four or five feet from the stove) allowing me to devote the time today.
I did a lot of research before buying the ingredients for my Bolognese. What I learned is that I don’t like most of the recipes available, either in my book collection or on the web. Some were all beef (wrong). Some didn’t include vegetables (wrong). Some were primarily tomatoes (wrong). All of them made too little (wrong).
The thing is, if you’re going to spend over eight hours making something like this, you may as well make a lot. This is a dish which takes the same amount of time for a double batch as for a single, so why not just go large from the start? Bolognese freezes remarkably well, so eight hours now will provide you will meals for weeks to come.
The recipe here is one of my own devising and is pre-scaled to a double batch. Halve it if you wish, but frankly I can’t imagine why you would.
- A large, heavy pot with a tightly fitting cover. I used a 7.25 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven. A 5.5 quart Dutch oven may work as well.
- 3 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
- 4 oz prosciutto, pancetta or bacon, chopped fine or ground
- 2 lg carrots, grated
- 2 lg celery ribs, diced fine
- 1 lg onion, diced fine
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 lb ground veal
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 28oz cans whole plum tomatoes, drained
- 2 cups meat stock (chicken, beef, pork, whatever), preferably homemade
- 2 cups whole milk
- Heat the olive oil in your large pot. When it’s very hot, add the vegetables and prosciutto. Cook until the vegetables are very soft.
- Add the beef, pork and veal to the pot and cook until it’s browned.
- Add the wine. Simmer uncovered until most of the liquid is evaporated.
- Crush tomatoes (it’s easiest just to use your hands)) then add them and the stock to the pot.
- Cover the pot and cook on low for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the top and cook until much of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has thickened (this may take another 90 minutes).
- Add salt to taste.
- Add the milk and simmer uncovered for another hour, stirring occasionally.