Bolognese is a meat-based, full-bodied sauce.
What to expect
- Exposure and training in making pasta sauce.
- Exposure to braising meat and how this type of cooking brings out the flavor from the meat.
Cooking difficulty: 4/10
Technicality difficulty: 4/10
Crowd pleaser: 8/10
*Above numbers assume the person following the recipe below has some cooking experience. (1:easy ; 10:hard)
This recipe yields 7 – 10 servings of pasta bolognese.
Pancetta or Bacon
1 Whole Carrot
1 Stalk Celery
2 Yellow Onions
½ Pound Medium Ground Pork
½ Pound Lean or Medium Ground Beef
1 Can Tomato Paste
1 Can Tomato Sauce
2 Bay Leaves
1 Bunch Thyme (half put while braising, half put at the end)
Black Peppercorn and Salt
Optional: Pecorino and / or Parsley
- Peel carrots. Clean celery. Remove the skin from the onion. Rough chop the carrot, celery, and onions and put into a food processor. Process the vegetables until this reaches a paste consistency.
- Heat Dutch oven or sauce pot to medium high. Dice into small dice the pancetta. Add pancetta or bacon and let the fat render.
- Add the sofrito to sweat out and continue to sauté until most of the water has evaporated.
- Add the pork and beef into the pot and use a potato masher or wooden spoon to break the meat. Let cook until most of the moisture is gone and meat starts to brown.
- Add in tomato paste, mix, and let the tomato paste cook out.
- Add red wine to deglaze. Let the red wine cook out to evaporate the alcohol.
- Add in tomato sauce and chicken broth.
- Make a sachet of thyme and bay leaves. Add in the sachet to the braise.
- The combination of carrots, celeries, and onions is called sofrito in Italy or mirepoix in France. These are essential to creating the base flavor of your dish, especially with dishes that require braising.
- Use pancetta or similar meats with high fat content, such as bacon, lard, etc. You want to layer your flavor from the start, and using a fat, instead of regular cooking oil, yields a dish that has both flavor complexity and depth. Use duck fat as well if preferred.
- Evaporating the moisture at each stage of the cooking process creates a better flavor complexity to the food. Less moisture means the next ingredient could brown/sear easily. Browned ingredients add in a depth of flavor.
- Cooking out tomato paste means letting the tomato paste cook its moisture out and toast it. Toasting the tomato paste caramelizes the paste and also creates fond on the pot.
- Red wine is another ingredient that creates a layer of flavor to the final dish. Add the wine after the tomato paste as the wine will deglaze the caramelized tomato paste in the pot. Cook out the wine to cook the alcohol out.
- A sachet is a mix of aromatic ingredients, such as pepper, bay leaves, garlic, thyme, rosemary, etc. Its purpose is to add flavor/fragrance to the dish. Only use half of thyme at this stage. The thyme’s purpose at this stage is to give flavor to the braise as it cooks. The other half of the thyme bunch is added at a later stage, nearing the end of the cooking process, to further uplift the flavor of the dish with a fresher herb taste.
- Braising for a few hours extracts out the flavor of the meat to combine with the rest of the braise. Cooking a braise for a short time will not yield a meaty taste as if one were to braise for a longer time.
- Add in other aromatics or flavorings, such as parsley or cheese like pecorino as preferred and/or to add more complexity and depth of flavor.