red meat. As you probably know if you’ve stopped by before I’m not a huge fan of it, but Chris is so from time to time I’ll make it. This past Sunday I made a pasta bolognese from Anne Burrell’s recipe that I adapted to make my own. This bolognese sauce takes 3-4 hours (yes that long) to cook(!!!!) hence why it’s made on a Sunday. I actually cooked the sauce on a Sunday & we ate it with pasta on a Monday.
This recipe is not particularly difficult (actually it’s pretty easy) but it does require a big time commitment. Growing up my family didn’t identify pasta bolognese sauce as a ‘thing’ it was just spaghetti & meatballs. When the meatballs broke apart in the sauce I guess that was our version of a bolognese sauce which I learned later in life (after waitressing on Mulberry Street) that it is a meat sauce. So this recipe isn’t a Grandma Pesce recipe but it is a good one & I’d make it again.
PS: Happy Birthday Amanda! I love you & hope this is your best year yet! (In hindsight I really should've made manicotti huh? :)!)
Ingredients (adapted from Anne Burrell’s Pasta Bolognese Recipe)
- 1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice
- 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
- salt & pepper
- 1 pounds ground grass-fed beef
- 12 oz tomato paste
- 3 cups hearty red wine
- 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese rind (optional)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 pound spaghetti (I used linguini)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (that’s what we use at our house!)
- 10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (cut into thin ribbons) for serving
- In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil.
- Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.
- Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt & pepper BROWN THE BEEF! Don't rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat.
- Toss in the cheese rind, bay leaves, the dried thyme, dried basil, dried parsley and red pepper flakes and stir to combine everything. (The cheese rind is totally optional & just adds extra flavor. It will melt down but you might have a significantly large hunk when you’ve finished cooking simply discard before serving or if you want eat it - I won’t judge.)
- Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don't be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. (Anne Burrell’s note: This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will).
- Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
- I found that a good amount of extra grease formed on the top of my sauce which I wasn’t a giant fan of so I just skimmed it off the top & discarded it periodically. I know the fat is what makes it tastey but if you’re not into the the excess grease go ahead & skim it off it still tastes good.
- During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the spaghetti. When the water is at a rolling boil add a good amount of salt and the spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce.
- Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. (I actually didn’t need any reserved cooking liquid & just tossed my pasta with the sauce & let it cook for another 2 minutes).
- Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of grated cheese.
- Top with remaining grated cheese & fresh basil. Serve immediately.