Before we talk about this bolognese recipe, there are two things you should know. First, it’s not quick. It will take listening to four episodes of Over My Dead Body (and seriously considering whether you should spend the $5 to listen to episode five early). Or approximately 3.5 hours, from start to finish.
But here’s the other thing: This bolognese recipe will change your life. I’m sure of it. And if you’ve been looking for some time to sit around and catch up on your true-crime podcasts, then it’s basically a win-win.
Not only is it super, crazy, mega flavorful, but it’s also super, crazy, mega easy— two things that don’t often go together.
It’s the recipe that taught my friend Roy that not everything you cook has to be made as fast as possible, on the very highest flame, and until the ominous thick grey-white cloud rapidly filling your apartment threatens to set off your smoke alarm. And, in fact, that cooking low and slow instead, as the French often do, helps your food develop deep, concentrated and complex flavors (Just wait until you taste the mirepoix—made up of only carrots, celery, mushrooms and onion—40 minutes in. All I’ll say is: 🤯). Not to mention that it’s quite relaxing.
He came over on Saturday to show me how to make bolognese. And if I can do it, so can you! Here’s what you’ll need…
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or mashed
- 3 carrots, diced
- 4 stalks of celery, diced
- 9 mushrooms, diced
- 1/4 lb pancetta, chopped
- 1.25 lb ground beef (85/15 or 90/10)
- .75 lb ground pork
- 4.5-oz tube of tomato paste (Roy’s favorite brand is Amore)
- 1 c milk
- 1 c dry white wine (like a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio)
- Basil to garnish
In a large dutch oven (5.5 qts), over medium-low heat (on my gas range, Roy set the flame right between the lowest setting and the true middle), add the butter and 1/4 cup EVOO (or as Roy says, “a big ol’ glug of olive oil”). Heat until the butter is melted. Stir to combine with the olive oil.
First, we’ll make the mirepoix. Add the garlic and diced onion, carrots, celery and mushroom.
Add a BIG sprinkle of salt and mix.
Cook the mirepoix over low heat for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring every so often, until veggies are soft. Cooking the veggies low and slow this way extracts all the water, bringing out a deep, delicious flavor. (Remember the 🤯 I promised would happen? This is it!)
An important note: Make sure you cook the veggies without color. If they burn or brown, you’ll need to start over. So be sure to go low and slow!
Turn the heat up a little closer to medium. Add in the pancetta, ground beef and ground pork. Using a wooden spoon, incorporate it into the mirepoix and break it up as much as possible.
Pat the mixture down into an even layer.
The bottom will develop brown crispy bits. Every so often, use your wooden spoon to mix the brown crispy bits into the rest of the veggie/meat mixture. Keep patting it down into an even layer, let another bottom layer brown, mix it in, and repeat.
At this point, you want to cook off all the water so everything (eventually) browns.
After an hour, you’ll have a beautiful pot of the most flavorful ground meat you’ve ever tasted. But just wait. It keeps getting better and better.
Once the meat is browned and there’s no moisture left, add in the entire tube of tomato paste.
Stir and cook on low for about 30 minutes, allowing the tomato flavor to deepen.
Now taste it. And try not to eat the whole pot.
Add a cup of milk.
Stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add a cup of white wine, stir and cook the alcohol (about 2-3 minutes, or until you don’t smell or taste raw alcohol).
Turn heat down to the lowest setting you have, cover and cook for one last hour, stirring occasionally. At this point, you don’t want to evaporate that much more fluid.
And that’s it! You’ve just made the best bolognese recipe ever.
Serve over pasta (Roy’s favorite is bucatini) or eat it over brown rice like Roy does.
Want to learn how to make more delicious things? Check out all my how tos.