David Neibart's Bolognese Ragu
A New Yorker's Version of the Bolognese Classic
- Servings: Makes about 6 cups of sauce.
Bolognese ragu is one of Italy's great classic recipes. Just as every home cook in the Emilia-Romagna region that surrounds the city of Bologna has his or her own version of this rich meat sauce, so do many practiced New York cooks.
This recipe makes about 6 cups of thick, rich ragu.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 4 stalks celery, finely chopped (without the leaves)
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 pound ground veal
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 3/4 pound mild pork sausage bought either in bulk or removed from their casings (this sausage is sometimes called "sweet" sausage to differentiate it from hot Italian sausage)
- 1/4 pound pancetta, minced (use both the fat and lean parts)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 16 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand into a rough puree, with their juices; use San Marzano canned tomatoes if you can find them
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 5 tablespoons of minced fresh herbs, usually a combination of basil, flat leafed parsley and thyme
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Freshly ground pepper
- In a large saucepan or pot, large enough to end up holding all the ingredients, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.
- Add the minced onions, celery, and carrot and the sliced garlic and sweat the vegetables until they are soft and translucent. Watch carefully so that the garlic doesn't brown. About 3 minutes.
- Add the ground veal and pork, the crumbled sausage and minced pancetta. Brown the meats over medium high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together. The browning of the meat adds important flavor to the sauce so be patient as this step can take 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the milk and simmer until the mixture is almost dry, about 10 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer an additional 15 minutes over a medium-low heat.
- Add the wine, herbs and sugar. Bring the sauce to a boil and then immediately lower the heat to the lowest flame and slow simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Do not cover.
- Remove from heat. Stir in the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Use as a sauce on spaghetti, linguine, or any other long strand pasta. The ragu can be made the day before and gently reheated as you cook your pasta.
Tip: If you use dried herbs, reduce the quantity to 2 tablespoons as dried herbs are much more potent in their flavor than fresh.
Tip: Pancetta is an Italian bacon that is cured but not smoked. It comes in a fat roll and is usually sold by the slice or the piece at a charcuterie or a market's deli counter. You can ask the counter person to cut a single fat slice which will make it easier for you to mince it into small pieces.