Bolognese is a kind of ragù (the Italian word for meat sauce), original from Bologna, Italy.
with the s o u n d up
It's very different from your usual American meat sauce, often a tomato-based sauce simmered with ground beef. Bolognese is much thicker, creamier -adding milk and wine and just a touch of tomato.
But like.. are you actually making your spag bol properly - in other words, are you skipping out on what is the most VITAL ingredient? Stay with me here, because if you've never done it before, this might seem kind of strange. In order to create the best Bolognese, you're going to need a good pouring of milk. (Lactose free is fine for those dairy concious)
Most of us aren't used to adding dairy to tomatoey, meaty sauces, but adding milk to your bolognese adds such a richer depth of flavour, and results in much more tender meat. Adding milk right at the end and then simmer your sauce for another 15-45 minutes, results in a really silky sauce. Want something EXTRA indulgent? Try cream instead. :)
According to the real Italians I met and cooked with in Puglia, Italy.. The difference between sofrito and mirepoix is that sofrito uses tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic while mirepoix does not. Sofrito is also fried in olive oil while mirepoix is traditionally slowly cooked in butter. You can also expect to find herbs added to sofrito but not in mirepoix. I'm always confused by this and usually do a mix of butter+oil with celery carrots onions and a bit of garlic :) Every day I was in Italy at the cooking school masseria I wondered why the heck we used so much olive oil and not a stitch of butter... they all laughed and said oh you are not in France my dear. :) We stayed on a family owned fortified olive tree farmhouse found in the Puglia region built in the 16th century. It was incredible. One night I felt stuffy+dry...they offered a giant bowl of water to be placed on the radiator throughout the night. It acted as a humidifier and felt amazing by the morning.
Back to our meatsauce ;)
Developing these delicious flavours, however, takes a little bit of time. Two hours at the very very least. That might sound laborious, but it’s really hands off. Time plus low heat allows each ingredient to “do its job,” lending its distinct flavour, melding, and transforming your bolognese into something magical.
Build your base...
Starting out with a soffritto (mirepoix in French, sofrito in Spanish soffritto in Italian) onion, carrot, and celery-the foundation for a great bolognese. Finely chop your vegetables, “sweat them out” in olive oil (you don't want too much colour, sauté them until they're translucent), and they’ll basically disappear into the sauce, leaving their sweet and savoury flavours behind. If you want to impart a bit of rich, porky flavour, cook the veggies in leftover bacon fat. I love my little bacon grease holder I got from one of my favorite chefs.. Byron Konold.
Linked here. It's cute and stores away just enough for you to scoop out a couple tablespoons for your favorite wintery soups and stocks for weeks to come.
Give it some time..
Cooking your sauce for atleast two hours might seem tedious, but trust, it’s worth it. Simmering allows the wine to cook off and concentrate and for all the flavours to really get to know each other. but, don't be afraid to add your own! Try this with your favourite red wine, toss in a few pieces of Parmesan rind, or sprinkle in some dried
herbs early in the cooking process.
Finish with milk, cream or half+half.
Adding milk may sound strange here, but it’s actually ESSENTIAL to rounding out a true Bolognese. It tenderises the meat and improves the overall texture of the sauce. After about 45 minutes, that cup of milk will turn your Bolognese into a silky masterpiece. Go with whole or 2% at the very least.
We love making a double batch of this and freezing it for lasagna on another night of the month.. Think of it as a gift to yourself on a night when you’re short on time and coming home late from soccer practice, youth group or rehersals! A hearty pasta like this deserves a thicker noodle like tagliatelle or pappardelle. If you need a weekend project, pair it with homemade pasta. I'll include our fav recipe for that as well. ( just make in the morning if you can and let it do it's thing in the fridge) one of my very favorite things to make ahead+ give to friends. (Que Christmas gift ideas!)
Favorite pasta recipe:
(Makes about 1 pound)
3 large eggs
2 cups 00 flour
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon pink salt
Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands until a shaggy dough forms. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with cloth bowl cover and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Cut and roll as desired.
Do Ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead; tightly wrap and chill. Or roll out, cut and dry- store frozen for a week or two lightly packed in a freezer bag. Cook directly from frozen just adding an extra 1-3 minutes on normal cool time)
Can you believe this is where my sister and I stayed? This winter garden was so beautiful, so many varieties we had never seen before. We learned how to harvest, prep and properly preserve them. Couldn't believe they only grew artichokes to can the hearts! They equally were blown away when we told them to steam, and dip the leaves in butter.
Favorite meat sauce:
1T. Olive oil
3T. butter + 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
1 white onion chopped
3 celery stalk chopped
3 carrots chopped
1 pound ground sirloin beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1-24 oz jar Rao's tomato basil sauce
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1 Cup whole milk/cream
1 Cup dry white wine
1½cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, hand crushed, with their juice
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table
Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery+carrot.
Add ground beef+pork+a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a wooden flat spoon+stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating -- about ⅛ teaspoon -- of nutmeg, and stir.
Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add ½ cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.
Including our favorite over night focaccia recipe:
Full recipe+tips+toppings found HERE
This makes one half sheet of bread-plan on doubling.
Mix all ingredients:
Heavy drizzleS of olive oil
Come back in 4-8 hours and follow the steps in Instagram stories under focaccia for fun topping ideas! or follow along here:
Oil a cast iron pan, dump in the dough. Press all those beautiful holes in +top with fresh herbs, loads of chunky flakey delicious salt a few cracks of tellicherri pepper and a very generous drizzle of olive oil.
Bake at 25 min @410 then rest for another 20.
Want to make this sooner?
Add a drizzle of honey at the beginning, double the yeast and add hot water instead. Should take an hour..punch down, put in pans..wait to raise again about 30 min then cook for 25.
(Make sure it’s near a heat source or proofing in a warm oven)