This is my favorite recipe for bolognese because it is tasty, and the most crowd-friendly. Usually bolognese includes ground meat and pork or pancetta. But, here you use just ground beef so people with pork restrictions can eat it.
It also doesn’t include milk or cream, which often you’ll find in rich bolognese sauces. (I have made Marcella Hazan’s recipe and it is good if you want to add milk) I like it better without the dairy because it is somewhat lighter. But, I do like to use a small rind of parmesan to impart this special salty/umami flavor. Most people that can’t have dairy can tolerate a rind of parmesan in the broth. But, you can be sure to ask them before.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. It takes a cook 2 hours and it is always better the next day. So, feel free to make it a day ahead for your guests or family. Cook the pasta the day of and use some of the pasta water to moisture your sauce when you reheat it. Your guests will feel lucky to be in your company when you serve them this Italian classic!
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
- 1 lb. Ground beef
- 1 Celery stalk, chopped fine
- 1 Carrot, chopped fine
- 1 medium to small Onion, chopped fine
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 24 oz. can whole San marzano tomatoes or sauce
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth (plus more as needed)
- a few shavings of fresh nutmeg (⅛ tsp. or less)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small rind of parmesan*
*Optional but I love the umami flavor parmesan adds
• 1 lb. pappardelle pasta or other pasta to serve with
- In a large pot with lid, heat a drizzle of olive oil and cook the ground meat. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks. Add ½ tsp. or so of salt and a few cracks of pepper to the meat. Let the meat brown fully.
- Then, add the celery, carrot, onion, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until onion starts to soften.
- Make a little well in the center of the pot, and add the tomato paste. cook for 20 seconds. Then, immediately add the wine. Cook until all the wine is evaporated, at least 5 minutes.
- Then, add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, nutmeg, bay leaf, rind of parmesan, a little more salt. Bring to a simmer/boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours with a lid partially on, stirring occasionally. Use the wooden spoon to break the tomatoes up as they start to fall apart. Add more broth if it gets dry.
- After 2 hours taste, and add more salt if needed. If the tomatoes taste a little bitter, add a little salt to counteract them. The final result shouldn’t be very liquid-y.
- When ready to serve, cook your pasta in a big pot and be sure to salt the water so it tastes liek the sea. Taste some of the water to be sure. Cook your pasta al dente. reserve some cooking water to add to the meat sauce if needed.
- Then in a separate saute pan spoon some sauce and use tongs to fish out the pasta and go directly into the saute pan with the sauce. Heat the pan briefly. Toss the pasta a few moments with the sauce so the noodles infuse with the sauce. Add more pasta water if needed. Serve with additional parmesan cheese.