Bolognese Meat Sauce
52 weeks in Italy. Week Quattro (four)
As we continue on in our Italian Culinary Sojourn, we’re going to be making a slow simmered meat sauce called Bolognese Meat Sauce. This sauce was another one presented by Giuliano Hazan in his Craftsy course Classic Italian Pasta Sauces: Meat and Tomato. It is also found in our text for this series Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, Giuliano’s mother, and can be found on page 203. You can pick this up at any bookstore or on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and even find copies at Half Priced Books. On Amazon is has 4 ½ stars out of five based on 490 reviews. But also, we will sprinkle a little of Giuliano’s work as well when there is not an equivalent recipe found in Essentials. In such cases, we will link to the recipe if it is posted online or link to the source where you can purchase the published recipe.
Part of the reason we do Culinary Sojourns is to expand our knowledge of different regional and cultural cuisine. This sampling we do allows us to cook with different ingredients, learn new techniques, and experiment with different flavors. Since our focus is authentic Italian cuisine we will stay true to the recipe as much as possible. The Bolognese Meat Sauce is a very hearty sauce that is referred to as a ragú in Italy. We brought it up with us to Brook Trout Camp this year.
The ingredient list for this sauce is pretty robust compared to some of the other Italian sauces we have made. Your ingredients include the classic mirepoix, which is carrots, onion and celery, ground chuck, although the second time we made it we used a 50/50 split of ground chuck and ground sirloin which was delicious. Also, used is whole milk, dry white wine and canned San Marzano tomatoes plus your seasonings. As you can tell, a lot of flavor components go into this sauce. When simmered for the 4-5 hours all of these ingredients come together in quite a marvelous way.
For the canned tomatoes, we went with our standard #10 can of imported San Marzano tomatoes so we scaled up all of the other ingredients to 5-6 times the recipe batch size. Do to the length of time it takes to simmer we easily made the justification to make our standard batch size for this recipe.
Overall, we don’t feel you’ll have any trouble with the recipe. You just have to monitor the sauce periodically and stir to keep the sauce from possibly burning on the bottom of the pan. During our course with Giuliano, some comments came up that they had to add water to the sauce before the 4-5 hour simmer time was over. This is recommended if you find the sauce fully reduced early in the cooking process.
We found we didn’t need to as we had sufficient tomato volume to keep it going for five hours and then some. This sauce also is typical of Italian pasta sauce making where the sauce simmers to the point where the fat from the beef and oil separates from the tomato mixture. It creates a very rich flavor that will flavor the pasta. You don’t need to over-sauce your pasta using the classic Italian sauces.
The homemade tagliatelle pasta is what is referred to as “the perfect marriage” with this sauce. We made a homemade pappardelle pasta which is a pretty thick noodle that Giuliano used and agree with the choice of pasta for this sauce. We will eventually do an entire segment on homemade Italian pasta and will feature homemade pasta in specific dishes that call for them. Making homemade pasta is a somewhat laborious process, but therapeutic as well as we find considerable enjoyment out of kneading the dough. Then running the pasta into our pasta machine to finally cutting the pasta with either the pasta attachment for fettuccine, or hand cut for many of the other possible shapes you can make with homemade pasta.
Sort of an unthinkable combination in Italy is topping the Bolognese meat sauce over spaghetti, but we admit, we’ve done it and do enjoy it as well. But, preparing with homemade pappardelle pasta will create the dining experience for which this sauce is best suited. If you don’t have a pasta machine or have not ventured into the world of pasta making, no fear Marcella recommends you can also use dry boxed pasta like rigatoni, conchiglie, or fusilli. We hope you will take a Saturday afternoon and prepare the Bolognese sauce. We feel it is well worth the effort and freezes extremely well so you can use what you need and freeze the sauce you don’t use.
On the next installment in our Italian Culinary Sojourn, we are going to be making another classic Italian pasta sauce, Puttanesca. There is an interesting story behind the sauce and how it came into being. This is another terrific sauce and we’ll have for you next week. After that, we may take a break from pasta sauces and return to soups to finish out our homemade beef broth.
As always, we’ll post progress photos on Facebook. So, you’ll want to keep checking back for that.
If there are any questions or comments, please let us know by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org