Ragù alla bolognese
Even though my mother was born in Abruzzo, she makes the best Bolognese sauce that I have ever tasted, bar none. This sauce is dramatically different from the Abruzzese style ragù on pages 55 and 58. It calls for ground meat, rather than chunks, and is made richer thanks to the addition of milk, cream, and julienned mortadella. Is it time-consuming? You bet. Is it worth it? Yes. This is the sauce I use in my (well, my mother’s) recipe for Lasagne Verde alla Bolognese, but it is also wonderful tossed with fresh egg noodles or spinach noodles fettuccine or tagliatelle, or even pappardelle. This recipe makes a lot of sauce. You can make half a batch or, even better, make the whole batch and freeze half of it.
Portions: Makes about 8 cups-2 l
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 large celery ribs, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 lb/455 g ground-minced beef
- 1 lb/455 g ground-minced veal
- 1 lb/455 g ground minced-pork
- 1 cup 240 ml dry white wine or dry sherry
- Kosher or fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch or freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup 240 ml whole milk
- One 7 oz-200 g can tomato paste-puree
- 2 cups/480 ml homemade meat broth or best quality low sodium, fat free commercial beef broth
- 1 cup/240 ml heavy-double cream
- 4 oz/115 g thinly sliced mortadella, cut into julienne
Warm the olive oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, stir in the garlic, carrots, celery, onion, and parsley. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté the vegetables for about 10 minutes, or until they are softened and golden. Add the beef, veal, and pork and mix well, using a wooden spoon to break up the meats. Cook over medium-low to low heat, stirring frequently, until the meat turns a deep brown and is crumbly but still tender and not at all hard. This will take about an hour or slightly longer. When the meat is ready, raise the heat to medium, stir in the wine, and mix for a few minutes, until the wine evaporates. Season with a little salt and pepper, add the nutmeg, and stir in the milk. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until most of the milk has been absorbed. In a small bowl, dilute the tomato paste-puree with a splash or two of the beef broth and add to the sauce. Mix well and add the remaining broth. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and let the sauce simmer slowly for 2 hours or more, or until it is very thick and all of the vegetables have more or less melted into the sauce. Stir in the cream and mortadella and cook at a gentle simmer until heated through.
The ragù may be stored in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you are freezing the sauce, omit the cream and mortadella and add them when you reheat the sauce.