Preparation - Medium
Prep: 30 min -
Cook: 3 hours -
Total: 3 hour 30 min
Yield: Serves 4
THERE are as many variations of Bolognese Sauce as there are cooks - in English, French, German, etc. The classic "Ragu Bolognese" sauce, as set forth in the archives of the Bologna chapter of the "L'Accademia Italiana della Cucina" is made with a mixture of minced or ground meats, tomato concentrate or paste - not whole tomatoes - and cream. The meat shines through as the prime ingredient in that version of the sauce, and the pasta is often served with several tablespoons of the sauce nested in the middle.
THIS is a recipe for traditional 'Bolognese' sauce, or 'ragù', using minced meat and canned or fresh tomatoes. For a quick meat sauce with ground beef, see Simple Meat Sauce.
2 tablespoons olive oil (you can use all olive oil or all butter, here)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons carrot, finely chopped
3/4 pound minced or coarsely ground lean beef, veal or pork
1/2 cup milk
1 cup dry white wine
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
14 oz tinned Italian tomatoes (you can go up to 28 oz or 36 oz for more 'tomato' in the sauce), roughly chopped, with their juice - fresh tomatoes: see note at bottom
IN an earthenware pot or the heaviest, deepest pot you have, heat the oil/butter. Add the chopped onion and sauté briefly over medium heat until just translucent. Add the celery and carrot and cook gently for 2 minutes.
ADD the minced beef, breaking it up with a fork. Add salt to taste, stir, and cook only until the meat has lost its raw, red color. Add the wine, turn the heat up to medium high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the wine has evaporated.
TURN the heat down to medium, add the milk and the nutmeg, and cook until the milk has evaporated. Stir frequently.
WHEN the milk has evaporated, add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly. When the tomatoes have started to bubble, turn the heat down until the sauce cooks at the gentlest simmer, just an occasional bubble. Cook, uncovered, for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and check for salt. (If you cannot keep an eye on the sauce for such a long stretch, you can turn off the heat and resume cooking it later on. But do finish cooking it in one day.)
USING FRESH TOMATOES: Plunge in hot water, peel and de seed as much as possible, simmer in a little water, covered, until soft, then process briefly to a coarse sauce consistency before adding.
YOU can refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freezes well. You can make extra portions for later.