I will admit, before 10 years ago I had never heard of Bolognese. In our house, like many other families, it was called Meat Sauce. It was my favorite version of "spaghetti." Most versions are basically browned ground beef with garlic and onions, then various canned tomatoes and dried Italian seasoning. Simple and good. Since then, I've been introduced to Bolognese. There are many different recipes for bolognese ranging from very simple with few ingredients to many with a slew of meats to create a very sophisticated flavor complex. My version is someplace in between. It is special, but simple - similar to the good ole Americanized "Meat Sauce," but with a couple more enhancements to add depth of flavor.
my version of a classic
1/4 pound of pancetta, diced
1 pound of ground beef
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of onion, small dice
1/4 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon of tried Italian herbs
2 bay leaves
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/4 cup of cream
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 pound of pasta
In a sauce pan, cook pancetta, rendering fat. When almost crispy, remove the pancetta and set it aside leaving the fat in the pan. Add the ground beef and cook it until it has browned. Add olive oil and onion, cook for 3 minutes then add garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then add red wine. Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium until the onion has absorbed the wine. Add herbs, tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook for 10 minutes until simmering. Lower heat and add cream. Cook for another 2-3 minutes at a low simmer. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
In the meantime, begin boiling a large pot of salted water. Cook pasta until it is almost done - be careful not to over cook it. Remove it from the water and place it directly in the saucepan. Stir to coat. Serve garnished with parmesan.