Jan 14, 2010

Ragu alla Bolognese

Ragu alla Bolognese 

I saw this recipe in the June issue of Delicious magazine. Now let me start by saying that after this issue I pretty much abandoned their magazine. I’ll flip through the pages at the supermarket but haven’t bought one since. It’s the over-exposed and totally fake colored food photography they print these days that puts me off and makes me cringe. I just don’t like it anymore. I want to see real food, with normal colors so I know what I’ll get on my plate.

But this recipe did spark my interest back then. I made a mental note of it with every intention of trying it soon. Now, we all know how good intentions can inadvertently pave the way to all the wrong places, but making mental notes when you have a memory like a sieve isn’t a really smart thing to begin with. My bad. 

Luckily I ran into said magazine again while cleaning out the gazillion magazines I keep in my night stand, or I would have missed out on the best darn Bolognese sauce ever. Sharing the love! 

  

Ingredients: 

1 pound ground beef
1 pound mixed ground pork/beef
7 oz bacon or pancetta
1 large onion
2 celery stalks
1 medium carrot
2 garlic cloves
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp pepper
3 1/2 cups beef broth
2 1/2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
pinch of dried basil
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil 

Optional: 1 1/2 cups broth can be replaced by red wine 

* this recipe makes for quite a bit of sauce. You can cut the recipe in half, but with all the oven time it’s probably far more economical to make a large batch and freeze half of it. You’ll need a large oven-proof pan for this, preferably a Dutch oven. I’ve used a 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset. 



Directions: 

*preheat your oven to 300F (160C). 

Finely mince a large onion. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Peel and finely chop the carrot. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

I don’t care for stringy bits, so I have a tendency to peel my celery stalks. Works like a charm. Finely chop them. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Grate or mince the garlic. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Again, I’ve opted for thinly sliced bacon. Don’t I always? My world is a better place with bacon in it. Chop it. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

This is one pound (good quality) ground beef and one pound mixed ground pork/beef. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Heat 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil and cook the bacon for 4 minutes. Don’t look at me, just following directions! 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic. Cook the vegetables for 5 more minutes. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Then add the meat. Cook it for 10 minutes while breaking it up with a spatula. Or a fancy shocking pink silicone spoon. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Pour in 2 cups of milk, add 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. In hindsight, I personally would have gone for 1 cup of milk.
Ragu alla Bolognese 

That gives you plenty time to finely chop the basil leaves. You’ll need about 2 1/2 tbsp chopped basil. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

After 10 minutes you stir in 2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste, bring the mix to a boil again and simmer for 5 more minutes. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Add both cans of diced tomatoes, pour in the beef broth—or replace 1 1/2 cup of broth with red wine—sprinkle the basil in there, add 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tsp salt and I’ve added 1/2 a tsp dried basil because I love the flavor it gives. Throw 2 bay leaves in there as well. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Bring the sauce to a boil, pop the lid on and put it in the oven. Let the sauce slowly simmer in the oven at 300F (160C) for 2 hours, until the sauce has cooked down and thickened. 

As soon as the sauce is done, you’ll see that the fat has accumulated on top. If you want to save yourself countless hours of research on how to unclog your arteries and prevent a fatal heart attack, skim it off and throw it away. Discard the bay leaves. 
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Until you’re left with an amazingly fragrant Bolognese sauce.
Ragu alla Bolognese 

Now of course you can serve it with pasta. But everybody does that. I don’t want to be like everybody, that’s why I dip my crusty bread in it and sigh. A big happy sigh. 
Ragu alla Bolognese

Kay’s Recipe Card

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Ragù alla Bolognese
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef
    1 pound mixed ground pork/beef
    7 oz bacon or pancetta
    1 large onion
    2 celery stalks
    1 medium carrot
    2 garlic cloves
    2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
    2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
    2 cups milk
    1 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    1/4 tsp pepper
    3 1/2 cups beef broth
    2 1/2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
    pinch of dried basil
    2 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp olive oil

    Optional: 1 1/2 cups broth can be replaced by red wine
Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 300F (160C). Finely mince a large onion. Peel and finely chop the carrot. Finely chop your celery stalks (I peel them first) and grate or mince the garlic. Give the bacon a chop as well.

    Heat 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil and cook the bacon for 4 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook the vegetables for 5 more minutes. Then add the meat. Cook it for 10 minutes while breaking it up with a spatula. Pour in 2 cups of milk, add 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Chop until you have 2 1/2 tbsp basil.

    After 10 minutes you stir in 2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste, bring the mix to a boil again and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add both cans of diced tomatoes, pour in the beef broth—or replace 1 1/2 cup of broth with red wine—sprinkle the basil in there, add 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 a tsp dried basil and throw 2 bay leaves in there as well. Bring the sauce to a boil, pop the lid on and put it in the oven. Let the sauce slowly simmer in the oven at 300F (160C) for 2 hours, until the sauce has cooked down and thickened.

    As soon as the sauce is done, you’ll see that the fat has accumulated on top. Skim it off and discard the bay leaves.
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