A very dense, meaty ragu sauce from the region of Bologna, Italy.
2 medium onions
4 celery ribs
2 medium carrots
5 cloves garlic
1 lb mushrooms
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup butter
1/8 lb bacon (I don’t use, but highly recommended for bacon lovers)
1 lb ground veal or beef (or turkey)
1 lb ground pork (or chicken sausage)
1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can of tomato puree
1 cup whole milk (I make with skim and it’s still pretty good)
1 cup water
1 cup red or white wine. Optional: you can add more water
1 t fresh (1 T dried) thyme
1 t fresh (1 T dried) basil
2- 3 bay leaves
Salt & pepper to taste
Pasta of choice
8 oz Parmigiana, Asiago, or Romano cheese, garnish
Place onion, celery, carrot, garlic and mushrooms in food processor or blender. Drizzle in 1/8 cup of olive oil. Puree into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.
Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes (if using, if not, omit step). Add ground meats and BROWN them (brown food just tastes better). Use a wire whisk to break up meat to ensure a velvety finished texture. Don’t rush this step. Cook another 15- 20 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, milk, wine, water, bay, basil and thyme. Gently simmer, uncovered*, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Stir with wire whisk every 15- 20 mins. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.
30 minutes before you want to eat, cook your pasta (rigatoni is my FAV, but others eat spaghetti, penne, or fat homemade noodles). When your pasta is done, take 1 cup of pasta water and add it into the sauce. Toss ¼ of the sauce with pasta and then top with your desired amount. Top generously with cheese and enjoy!
Believe it or not, some people actually use this as their red sauce for lasagna. Whew, too much work.
*A splatter screen really comes in handy at this point. Once the liquid starts to reduce, the bolognase will begin to bubble and splatter everywhere unless you have something covering the pot. You don’t want to place the lid on the pot because then the liquid won’t be able to evaporate. Since a splatter screen is made out of a fine mesh, the liquid can still evaporate, but the erupting sauce won’t splatter all over the stove, kitchen walls, and most important of all, you!
Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Frozen, it keeps for 1 month.
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