Marcella’s (and Mom’s) Bolognese
Remember how I’ve said that my top 5 favorite foods included pasta bolognese? This is that. And if you make this, your list might change to include it too. This is my number one favorite meal of all time. Seiously people. ALL TIME. Could eat it all day, every day. So it’s a good thing it freezes well! The original ragu recipe is from Marcella Hazan’s Marcella Cucina. The main variation is that we use red wine instead of white. It makes the sauce more robust, more wintry. And if you ask me, more delicious. This sauce is sweet and not acidic, and hearty and creamy. Unlike other kinds of bolognese sauce I’ve had.
Mom has been making this sauce as long as I can remember, and once I finally tried it (remember, I was eating Pesto when I was little – not a big fan of tomatoes back then!), I never went back. I started making it on my own when I had my first decent kitchen in college, and have faithfully made 2-5 batches every fall/winter since. Like I said, it freezes well, so you can make a double or triple batch and feast for a couple weeks! If you do this, use multiple pots. Don’t try to make two batches in one pot – it won’t reduce as well.
I love the way this makes my kitchen smell – you walk through the front door and the scent just hugs around you and makes your mouth water (just ask Chris!) It simmers on the stove for 4-6 hours total, so it’s definitely a weekend dish. However, you can leave it to be by itself, and last time Mom was out we got a batch going and went off to get manicures while it simmered. This is also perfect for snow days and snow storms, or to fill you up after a day of sledding…
Marcella’s (and Mom’s) Bolognese (adapted from Marcella Hazan, serves 4-5)
3 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Celery Stalks, chopped
1 lb Ground Beef (I prefer the leanest kind available since there is other fat in the recipe)
1 cup Good Red Wine (I like Chianti)
1/2 cup Milk (I use 2%)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
2 1/2 cup Canned Peeled Italian Tomatoes, with juice, roughly chopped
Using a large, heavy-bottomed pan (taller w/ a small base is best so sauce does not reduce too quickly), saute the onion in the butter and oil 2-3 minutes, add carrots and celery and heat until soft. Crumble beef with a fork and add to the pot. Cook over medium until the beef just loses its raw color. Add the wine, turning the heat up to medium-high, stirring ocasionally until the wine is evaporated. Add the milk and nutmeg, turn heat down to medium, and stir frequently until the milk is absorbed/evaporated. This makes the meat really sweet and tender. Add the chopped tomatoes and juice, and heat until bubbling. Turn down the heat until the sauce is barely simmering, just an occasional lazy bubble. Taste and adjust salt accordingly. Simmer uncovered for 3.5 – 5 hours. The longer the better! Serve with fresh parmesan over hot pasta.
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