This sauce needs no introduction, what it does need is a group of friends. Invite everyone over for a Sunday Sauce dinner, make an afternoon out of it. Give each friend a job for the afternoon one chopping, grating parm, pouring wine, etc. Bolognese is a comforting and rustic dish, the ingredients are personal and therefore there is no wrong way to make it. If you’ve only got one hour to make this for this sauce tutto bene (it’s all good). If you’ve got three hours this will be the best bolognese you’ve ever made.
all units: U.S. Imperial
- 1lb grass-fed beef or ground pork (a 50/50 mix is the best)
- 1/4 c chopped pancetta
- (if you don’t have that, save your pan drippings from Saturday morning bacon and use just the fat in the pan)
- 1 c chopped yellow onion
- 3-6 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 1 c chopped carrots
- 1 c chopped celery
- 1/2 whole ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch chili flakes
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme or sage
- 1 can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil, flaky sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, fine sea salt
- 1 c dry white wine
- Optional: 1 c whole milk
In a large cast-iron pot or stainless-steel pot, brown your pancetta with a bit of olive oil. If you can’t find pancetta, you can use bacon, or pork fat pan drippings saved preserved in the fridge. Sweat your soffritto (onions, carrots, celery) and fennel to the pancetta or pork fat until translucent, don’t brown or caramelize. Add the garlic, and give it a few stirs. Add a pinch of fine sea salt, nutmeg, cumin, and chili flakes. This is where you will build the most flavor by adding your herbs & spices now to release the flavors into the sauce..
Add your ground meat to the pot, using a fork to break up the clumps so the meat browns. Once your meat is browned you can add 1 c of whole milk. Wait for the liquid to be absorbed completely by the meat. If you are not using milk, skip to adding your white wine, let it simmer until the wine has evaporated. Then stir in the tomatoes and wait until the sauce begins to bubble and reduce your heat to the lowest setting. Allow to simmer for at least 45 minutes, if you can wait, let it simmer for 2.5. hours. The longer you let it set, the richer it becomes.
Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash, with heaps of parmigiano reggiano and a dollop of goat cheese.
makes about 1 quart of cooked sauce