Bangin’ Bolognese Sauce
Yes, I’m calling this my bangin’ bolognese sauce and I stand by this statement!!! I’ve made bolognese many times before and I’ve read lots of bolognese recipes — this recipe is the culmination of everything I’ve learned and all of my past bolognese attempts. And it’s damn good.
This recipe is based off of tradition, with a few twists of my own. These twists are: pancetta, balsamic vinegar and sun dried tomato paste. I want to note that you can absolutely skip these ingredients, and you’ll still be left with a delicious, classic bolognese. You also can most definitely substitute sun dried tomato paste for regular tomato paste. The only reason I used sun dried tomato is because it’s all i could find during this time of quarantine, and I think it adds a little more tart sweetness instead of full on sweetness, which I find that regular tomato paste has. I used Amore sun dried tomato paste which is cheap and you can find it on Amazon or at the store.
This bolognese is like eating a hug. A fatty, sexy, saucy hug…which isn’t how I would usually categorize hugs, but this bolognese has created its own category of hug. The traditional preferred pasta to serve it with is a tagliatelle or a pappardelle, but if you can’t get your hands on those, go for a fettuccine (as pictured below.)
I made this recipe on Amazon LIVE, along with fresh pasta in my pasta machine. I’m linking the products I used to make this recipe below if you’re interested in them! The pasta machine is an investment but we love it. I also just recommend everyone have a great sauté pan (the one I’m using was a wedding gift, so it’s really nice) and immersion blender, so I thought this would be helpful!! Products are at the bottom of the blog post!
- Immersion blender (optional)
- Large sauté pan or sauce pan
- Olive oil for pan (can sub for vegetable oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil or avocado oil)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter I used Bufala butter if you can get your hands on that!
- 1 medium white onion finely chopped (by hand or in a food processor)
- 2 celery stalks finely chopped (by hand or in a food processor)
- 1 large carrot finely chopped (by hand or in a food processor)
- 1 lb ground beef chuck (20% fat)
- 4 oz. pancetta diced (can sub for bacon, but bacon will add a smoky element)
- 3 tbsp Salt keep on hand in a small bowl to add pinches of salt throughout the recipe
- 1 cup whole milk (whole milk is preferred but can be subbed for half and half, or chicken stock or broth if you have no dairy in the house)
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg *or just a pinch*
- 1 bay leaf optional, but preferred
- 1 cup dry white wine (dry white wine is the traditional ingredient, but it can be subbed for another non-fruity wine: red or rosé)
- 2 cups canned whole tomatoes San Marzano is preferred (can also sub for crushed, diced or purée if you do not have whole tomatoes)
- 3 tsp Balsamic vinegar optional, but preferred
- 2 tbsp sun dried tomato paste can be subbed with regular tomato paste
- Salted water (3 tsp salt and 3 cups of water, mixed together) to prevent the over-reduction of the sauce (can sub for chicken broth or stock)
- Fresh or dried pasta
- Parmesan for topping
- Put the oil and butter into a sauté pan on medium heat. Wait until the butter has melted into the oil, then put the pancetta into the pan. Let the pancetta cook for 5-7 minutes, until crisp and the fat is swimming throughout the pan.
- Add the onion and stir until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the carrot and celery and continue to stir or 3-4 minutes, until slightly softened and the fat is thoroughly coating the vegetables.
- Add the ground beef along with a generous pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper. Break up the ground beef in the pan with a fork or wooden spoon, until it's separated into small chunks. Let the ground beef continue to cook for 5-6 minutes, until it appears gray or brown in color.
- Add the milk and drop the heat to medium low. Let the milk continue to bubble until it cooks off and there is little to no milk liquid left.
- Add a pinch of nutmeg and stir into the mixture.
- Keep the heat at medium low, and add the white wine. Let the white wine bubble until cooked down halfway (should take 5 minutes.)
- Add the tomatoes, sun dried tomato paste (or regular tomato paste, if using) and 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar and stir into the mixture. Add another pinch of salt and some fresh cracked black pepper. Continue to stir the tomato mixture until the balsamic vinegar fully combined. Add a bay leaf and stir it so it's fully coated in the sauce.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and let the sauce simmer uncovered for 3-5 hours. The more the merrier, but I understand wanting to eat it quickly!! Continue to add splashes (1/4-1/2 cup) of your salted water to the sauce if it looks like it's reducing to a paste. This ensures that it doesn't dry up and that the ingredients keep swimming and simmering to develop flavor.
- Check on the sauce after 45 minutes and pulse your immersion blender on low over the tomatoes to open them up and release their juices. Remove the bay leaf, then, run the immersion blender through the sauce 3-4 times, to encourage all of the ingredients to come together and swim in the saucy deliciousness. Put the bay leaf back into the sauce. If you don't have an immersion blender, squash the tomatoes with a fork to break them up. I prefer the blender because it helps the sauce develop the utmost creaminess.
- After 3 hours, remove the bay leaf again and run the immersion blender through the sauce on low, another 3-4 times. The goal isn't to blend the sauce because we want our ingredients to maintain their shape, however it helps break them apart and release flavor after soaking in our sauce for so long. You'll see the sauce begin to get even more creamy.
- 30 minutes before serving, add another teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and stir until combined. Add another splash of water (or skip this if your sauce isn't drying up) and continue to let the sauce simmer. Taste right before serving, and adjust any other seasonings accordingly.
- Toss cooked pasta in the sauce and plate. Top generously with freshly grated Parmesan. I also love to top mine with fresh parsley for a pop of bright flavor, but it's completely not necessary and more of a preference.