Bolognese or Ragu, is an Italian meat sauce that originates from Bologna. Bolognese usually contains a few different combinations of meat depending upon your preferred flavor profile or what’s available. Ground meat and slow roasting meats, like short ribs and roasts are traditionally used in Bolognese. I like to use a variety of ground meats such as; beef, veal and pork. This combination of meat provides a nice base with great flavor that pairs nicely with the rich tomato sauce.
I have used short ribs and brisket to make Bolognese before, but an additional step of shredding the meat is required before you create the sauce. Using whole braised meats makes a decadently delicious sauce too, but I think the ground meat provides a simpler way to create a tasty Ragu.
Bolognese can be served over spaghetti, pappardelle or any thicker noodle pasta. Also, I like to serve it over spaghetti squash, especially when I am trying to reduce my carbohydrate in take. Bolognese would also make a great Sloppy Joe or Stuffed Pepper with an Italian flair.
Another great reason to partake in this Bolognese recipe is that you can feed a crowd. This recipe serves about 12 servings and you can freeze half of it to serve later, for a quick weeknight meal. Also, you can whip up a batch on the weekend to prepare ahead for your holiday guests and rewarm the sauce as needed.
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
3 large carrots, washed, peeled and chopped into thirds
4 stalks celery, washed and chopped into thirds
1 white onion, peeled and cut in quarters
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 heaping tablespoon dry Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 28 ounce can tomato puree, San Marzano preferably
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, San Marzano preferably
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pasta, any long noodle variety (prepare less pasta if freezing half)
spaghetti squash, optional
1. In a food processor, add the carrots, celery, garlic and onion. Puree until the mixture resembles couscous.
2. In a large stock pot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the coarse vegetables from the food processor. Saute the vegetables over medium heat for 4 minutes or until slightly softened.
3. Remove the meat from any packaging and crumble it into the stock pot over the sauteed vegetables. Cook the meat for 10 minutes, or until light and crumbly.
4. Then, add the Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Stir the herbs into the meat mixture and continue to cook over medium heat.
5. Pour the tomato puree, whole tomatoes, tomato paste and 1 cup of water into the stock pot over the meat. Stir together to combine and continue cooking.
6. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the sauce to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and stir.
7. Cover the pot with a lid and leaving a 1-inch crack. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook the sauce for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. If your stove runs hot, turn the heat to simmer to prevent any burning.
8. Towards the end of the cooking time, boil your pasta or steam the spaghetti squash and drain. Pour the cream into the sauce and stir.
9. Serve a portion of pasta on a plate with a big ladle of sauce over the top. It you want to toss the pasta and sauce before serving, you can do so in a large skillet, by adding the cooked pasta with a little olive oil and a ladle or two of sauce. Enjoy!