My friend Karen had a birthday, and as she is about the most difficult person in the world to buy for, I made her a gift. Bolognese sauce. It’s sort of a no-brainer since I know perfectly well that she shares my love of it.
This is an amazing sauce. Better than most of the “bolognese” I’ve ever had in Italy or anywhere for that matter. Cook’s Complicated, er, Illustrated came up with it (It’s been slightly modified, I can never leave anything well enough alone) and it is sort of complicated but utterly worth it and if you’re set up properly it’s not all that complex. Your processor does all the real work.
Believe it or not, this is a diet meal. No pasta of course. It’s like eating chili, only it’s Italian. And no beans are involved. So I made enough for both of us. I did drain the fat off the meat (see second pic) so it’s a little diet-y, in the conventional sense.
As of this writing, I have spent a week being completely free of gluten, dairy, carbs, alcohol. I’ve lost weight but I can’t say there’s been any healthy epiphany of any sort.
Best bolognese sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
8 tsp gelatin (that’s 2 packets)
4 oz porchetta (or pancetta) ground finely
4 oz mortadella finely chopped
1.5 pound ground beef
1.5 pound ground pork (or you could just use 2 pounds of beef)
1 onion coarsely chopped
1 large carrot coarsely chopped
1 large celery rib coarsely chopped
2 -3 chicken livers finely chopped (ground into a smooth slime actually)
3 TB fresh sage or 1 TB dried sage
6 oz tomato paste
1.5 cups dry red wine
Salt and pepper
Get all these ingredients together and then put your food processor on the counter.
Mix the broth in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top of it. This allows the gelatin to bloom whatever that means.
Put a large pot on the stove on high heat and put the olive oil in it. When the oil shimmers add the meat occasionally breaking it up and stirring now and then it until it’s cooked. In the meantime process the mortadella and pancetta in the processor to what looks like ground beef. Once the meat is browned (actually it is more grayed than browned but no longer pink is the idea) clear a spot in the center and add the pancetta and mortadella and brown for 5 to 10 minutes stirring it into the meat.
There is a lot of fat in the pan so generally speaking I drain it. I got nearly a cup of it last time. (See pic above)
In the meantime process (no need to clean it out first) the onion, carrot and celery until it is coarsely chopped. You should be able to recognize the chunks. Make a hole in the center of the sautéing meat and add the vegetables and sauté for 5-10 minutes, stirring it into the meat mixture.
Now add the tomato paste stirring it into the meat and letting the paste absorb the liquids and caramelizing it slightly. 5-10 minutes. Add the sage. Now add the wine and let that come to a boil. Now give the broth a stir and add it to the mess in the pot. Let that come to a boil, reduce and simmer for an hour.
In the meantime, process the chicken livers until you have a processor of red slime. I know it sounds grim but it’s part of the deal. After the sauce has simmered for an hour add the chicken livers. Bring back to the boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.
Turn it off and let it come to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to reheat it, pick the congealed fat off the top.
This is the best bolognese sauce there is. Guaranteed.