Spaghetti Bolognese: Ragù Magnifico!

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese is not your average meat sauce; it is a sauce you can spend an afternoon falling in love with as its simmering aroma wafts through the house. I discovered Bolognese while watching Emeril Live years ago and spaghetti has never had a better companion.  Over the years, this rich, meaty sauce has won a special place in the hearts of family and friends—it feels like I am giving away a secret family recipe, but what is food if you cannot share it.

This sauce does not need constant attention, but it requires patience as the ingredients are layered and perfected by long simmering.  Serving it with ricotta on top was a new twist when I first tried the recipe, now we cannot imagine having it any other way.  Grab a bottle of good red wine and get ready to see spaghetti in a whole new light.

There are a few important steps to creating a magnificent sauce:
Don’t get in a hurry, this is a food of love.
Don’t skimp on ingredients, the subtleties of each flavor is what make it so special. (I have tried shortcuts; it does not turn out the same.)
Use a good dry red wine; if it’s too cheap to drink, it is too cheap to eat.
The cream finish is very important; it is remarkable how the cream ties it all together.

Spaghetti Bolognese Ingredients

Spaghetti Bolognese

Serves 8
3             tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1             pound  ground beef or ground veal
1/2     pound  hot Italian sausage — removed from the casings
1             pound  ground lamb
4             ounces  pancetta – diced
1 1/2     cups  chopped yellow onions
3/4     cup  diced carrots
3/4     cup  diced celery
1              tablespoon  minced garlic
1/2      teaspoon  ground black pepper
2              whole  bay leaves
1/2      rounded teaspoon  dried basil
1/2      rounded teaspoon  dried thyme
1/2      rounded teaspoon  dried oregano
1/2      teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/2      teaspoon  ground nutmeg
2              teaspoons  sugar
2              tablespoons  tomato paste
1 1/2      cups  dry red wine
1              cup  dried porcini mushroom
2              cans  crushed tomatoes and their juice — (14 1/2-ounce)
1              can  tomato sauce — (14 1/2-ounce)
1              cup  beef broth
3              tablespoons  fresh parsley leaves — chopped
1              cup  freshly grated Parmesan
2              tablespoons  unsalted butter
1/4      cup  heavy cream
8              ounces  ricotta cheese
1              pound  spaghetti
Special equipment: cheese cloth

Rinse the mushrooms well under cold water. Add 1/2 cup of hot water to 1/2 c wine and soak mushrooms to rehydrate while starting the sauce.  Mix spices in a small bowl and set aside.  Dissolve tomato paste in beef broth.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook, stirring, until well browned and the fat is rendered.  Remove pancetta from skillet and place in a large pot for the sauce.  Add the beef, lamb, and sausage to the skillet in small batches to brown the meat (adding too much meat at once will steam the meat instead of browning it).  Add a small amount of wine at the end of each batch to loosen browned bits from the skillet.  Once browned, add meats to the large pot.

Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the skillet with 1 tbsp oil and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, pepper, bay leaves, basil, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant. Add the other 1 cup of wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and add to the large pot with the meats.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, tomato paste and beef broth mixture, and sugar; bring to a low boil.  Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid.  Add mushrooms to the sauce and strain the reserved liquid through a piece of doubled cheesecloth to remove any sediment; add reserved liquid to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low or simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, at least 2 hours (longer is better!).

Toward the end of the simmering time, add the cream, butter, and parsley, stir well, and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning, to taste.  Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Place a serving of spaghetti on a plate and cover with sauce, add a couple serving spoons of ricotta on top.  Add grated Parmesan on top of that and serve.  Alternatively, serve this “family style” on one large platter as described for individual servings.

Serve with Caesar salad and garlic bread.

Note: I often double this recipe and freeze in 2-3 cup portions so we always have Bolognese on-hand for a quick, delicious meal.

Posted on the following Blog Hops:
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday

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8 Responses to Spaghetti Bolognese: Ragù Magnifico!

  1. Ladystitches April 25, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    It is true!!! This is the BEST sauce ever!

  2. rsmacaalay April 27, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    With your ingredient list, I would really love the smell of that sauce simmering all day long.

  3. SHu Han May 5, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    wow just from the description of it i’m salivating! i know they add milk to authentic bolognese recipes too, cream sounds even more luxurious!

  4. Mike@The Culinary Lens September 25, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    A long but very worthwhile process. This is very similar to a recipe I used to make enormous quantities of when I worked for Balduccis in NYC. And you are correct the cream finish really makes a difference

  5. IDMT2PA December 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. For those that enjoy the process as much as the finished product, this was incredible. I can’t believe how good the house smells..

    • Judy December 31, 2011 at 9:03 am #

      I am so glad you enjoyed it! I am making it on Monday to ring in the new year…looking forward to the fragrance it brings and the smiles at the table :) Thanks for taking time to comment and let me know your thoughts, I appreciate that very much.

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