Pasta is one of those comfort foods that I like to serve at least a couple of times a month. The beauty of pasta is that there are so many types and so many ways to serve it. Whether it’s a simple olive oil and basil treatment or a full on, takes several hours sauce, pasta is always a favorite. One pasta meal we really enjoy is tagliatelle with Bolognese!
Bolognese is a meat-based sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy. It is a slowly cooked sauce I simmer for hours. As the sauce reduces the flavors embrace and intensify and….oh, my! This definitely isn’t spaghetti sauce from a jar!
To create my Bolognese I first pulled out a medium carrot, a medium onion, and a couple of stalks of celery. I mince them all, including some of the celery leaves. You don’t want big hunks of the mirepoix (totally unnecessary use of fancy French word but I was feeling puckish) in this sauce.
Next I take two pans, one small and one large and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the large pan. When the oil is hot in the large pan I start browning my ground beef. You’re going to want to chop the heck out of it. You don’t want any large chunks of meat.
When the beef is cooked about halfway I heat the oil in the small pan and add the vegetables. This will cook for 5 – 10 minutes (until the vegetables are well softened).
As soon as the beef is cooked through but not getting too browned I add 3/4 cup of white wine to that pan and cook it until the wine has disappeared.
The wine is in a glass because Mr. C measured it out for me. I wasn’t doing the Julia Child thing; “A little for the pot, a little for me!”
Then I add the vegetables to the meat and season it all with a bit of salt and pepper. Don’t use a heavy hand as the seasoning will intensify as the sauce reduces. As Mama taught me, you can add more at the end but you can’t take it out! Finally I add 1 cup of beef stock and 4 cups of whole tomatoes (or a 28 oz. can). Using my wooden spoon I cut the tomatoes up but not too small.
I bring the sauce to a boil, then cover it and simmer it over the lowest of heat for an hour. I stir the sauce occasionally during this hour.
Before I even covered the pot I had to taste it to check the seasoning…about 4 times.
After the first hour I remove the cover and continue simmering the sauce over a very low heat for another 1 1/2 – 2 hours. When it reaches the consistency I want I taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
I served the Bolognese on tagliatelle and homemade garlic bread. I also use this sauce to make my lasagna!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1 medium carrot, minced
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 stalks celery leaves included, minced
- 1 cup beef stock
- 4 cups whole tomatoes, peeled (or one 28 oz. can whole tomatoes)
- Salt and pepper
- In a large pan, pour 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium high heat.
- When oil is hot add the ground beef and break up using a wooden spoon.
- When beef is about halfway browned, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan and heat over medium high heat.
- When oil is hot add carrots, celery, and onion and cook until well softened.
- When beef is browned add 3/4 cup white wine and cook until wine has disappeared.
- Add the vegetables to the beef mixture and stir to combine.
- Season beef mixture, lightly, with salt and pepper.
- Pour 1 cup of beef stock into meat mixture and stir.
- Add 4 cups (or a 28 oz. can) of whole tomatoes to the mixture and, using a wooden spoon, break up the tomatoes.
- Bring sauce to a boil, cover and reduce heat to the lowest setting.
- Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, for an hour.
- Remove cover and continue to simmer for an additional 1 1/2 – 2 hours until sauce has reached the desired consistency.
- Ladle the Bolognese on your favorite pasta or to make lasagna.