I think Trevor might very well be my oldest friend. We met in the second grade at school in England, when both of our families were transferred there. The other day I came across a class picture of us … me with the bad haircut and a scowl. Him? A cocky grin bordering on a smirk. Between the scowl and the smirk, it’s any wonder we became friends. Now some, ahem, 30 (!) years later, he lives in Texas with his wife and energetic two-year-old son, and we trade recipes back and forth. He’s been much better at trying out some of my recipes, but this weekend I finally got around to trying one of his … Ragu Bolognese.
After reading the list of ingredients and getting the recipe started, I had to fight the urge to add some more herbs or spices. Although thyme was included, there was no oregano or basil. No oregano in an Italian pasta sauce? Great restraint was needed here. When I make a recipe for the first time, I try to stay true to it as it’s written, and he was right. It didn’t need it.
A rich, deep sauce, no doubt due to the wine and long simmer time, it was hearty, but perfectly balanced; delicious without being too heavy. I served it over plain spaghetti and ended up freezing half the sauce to make my life easier on another crazy night. If you have a lazy afternoon, and want a just-right Bolognese sauce, give this one a whirl. You won’t be disappointed. Even Nicholas ate it up, and that’s high praise considering he could “see the vegetables.”
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced (I used 3)
1 clove garlic, sliced
½ pound ground sirloin
½ pound ground pork
6 oz. pancetta (I used 8 oz)
1 tube of tomato paste (I used one small can)
1-1/2 cup milk
2 cups dry white wine (sauvignion or fume blanc)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, garlic and carrots and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned (10-15 minutes). Add the beef, pork and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Add it over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned. Add the tomato paste, milk, and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1-1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. Season with thyme, salt and pepper to taste.