My Quest For The Perfect Bolognese!
Do you ever play that game where you ask a friend or family member what they would want served for their last meal? Well, my answer to that question has consistently been Spaghetti Bolognese! It is my all time favorite comfort food and when I get the hankering for a big steaming bowl of it I break out the pots and pans and get to cooking. I always have the ingredients I need stocked up because I never know when the craving will hit and it’s one I simply can’t deny!
Over the years I’ve experimented with several different recipes and even been a bit creative on my own, as I try to find the exact right combination of ingredients that will blend together seamlessly in my version of the perfect meat sauce. Traditional Bolognese is incredibly simple, taking very little prep time and using only a handful of ingredients. I, however, like to get a little (very) creative with my sauce. Sorry in advance to all the Italians out there who might be horrified by my experimentations, but they do say that taste is subjective right?
I’ve borrowed ideas from different recipes I’ve tried and included some of my own, to create the heartiest, thickest, most savory version of my idea of the perfect bolognese sauce!
My First Attempt at Modifying the Classic
1 to 1 ½ hours
Serves 8 if you are moderate about portions or serves 6 if, like me, you’re not!
Years ago a friend of mine showed me how easy it is to make your own tomato sauce. Before that, I had been using jars of Ragu over my ground meat, or occasionally something a little fancier from my local organic grocery store. Once I realized that all a good tomato sauce needs to be great is canned whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes and a bit of tomato paste, I abandoned the Ragu and have never looked back!
You don’t need to use all three types of canned tomatoes, but in this version I do… ’cause why not? I also really, really, really love my bolognese with some heat. So this version includes cayenne and hot pepper flakes, but for those who don’t have my high tolerance for spicy food you can just omit that part, or choose to make the second version of the sauce which I’ll be talking about in an upcoming post!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 14½ oz can each of crushed, diced and whole tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 lb each of ground beef, pork, lamb
- 2 large onions chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 4 carrots peeled and chopped
- 4 celery stalks chopped
- 3 cups dry red wine
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb spaghetti pasta
- Freshly grated parmesan
- Red pepper flakes
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over moderate heat.
- Add the onions, garlic, celery and carrots and sauté until softened for about 8 to 10 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic!
- Increase the heat to medium high and add the ground beef, pork and lamb. Cook until browned.
- Season the mixture with salt, pepper and cayenne.
- Add the red wine, tomatoes and tomato paste to the sauté pan. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and continue to simmer on low for 1 to 1 ½ hours letting the sauce thicken and the flavors blend.
- In a large pot bring salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, drain and plate.
- Add as much sauce as you like over your pasta, sprinkle with the parmesan and pepper flakes.