This is the sauce you want. And this is the recipe that will give it to you. Almost creamy, silken in texture and rich beyond belief, this sauce is better than most restaurant’s Bolognese. Marcella Hazan’s version of Bolognese is the linchpin of one of Italy’s fundamental sauces. Have you ever spent hours in the kitchen, hunched over your cutting board and pot, to ultimately finish with a pasta dish that when plated resembles a scarlet island surrounded by a watery moat? Well, I have. But not with this dish. Ain’t nothing sloshing around your bowl when you have this sauce. Although it’s been around for years there is no better recipe than this robust and satisfying rendition. For all its big, luscious flavor this dish is not expensive to prepare; it only requires time and high quality ingredients to render perfection in a bowl. So, let’s get started. Marcella’s recipe calls for ground beef chuck and she’s not giving permission to pick up a pack of 7% fat chuck. Full fat is the only ratio that will give you the buttery consistency you’re looking for. And that’s exactly what you’re looking for. This is NOT a diet dish. It’s a treat, a reward if you will, for finally losing those first 8 pounds, for biting your tongue and not saying all those hateful things you thought of this week when you exchanged a few words with a family member, for getting up, dusting yourself off and giving the middle finger to the latest thrashing life may have served you. This is the dish that confirms what everyone else seems not to have noticed. You ARE special and this is the dish that will bow down and quietly obey. For that reason, use a cup of whole milk and not almond milk although I completely understanding you wanting to substitute ingredients…hell, it’s one of the crosses I bear. But do that with another recipe, not this one. To do it absolute justice, stick close to the recipe. It is a wonderment. Oh, and make certain to wrap it up in a high quality pasta. I chose pappardelle and my boys swooned. Swooned.
Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing pasta
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2/3 cup chopped celery
- 2/3 cup chopped carrot
- 3/4 pound ground beef chuck
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup whole milk
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta
- freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table
- Put the oil, butter and onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.
- Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
- Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating – about 1/8 teaspoon – of nutmeg and stir.
- Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find out that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
- Toss with the cooked, drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter and serve with freshly grated parmesan on the side.