Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spagetti Bolognese

I forgot to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese :(

Actually this is the first time I am making spagetti sauce with celery and carrot. It turned out better than I thought.  Rendering bacon and sauteing onions in the bacon fat does make a lot of difference. I also added some cubed red peppers.  All in all this is a very hearty meal.


2 strips of bacon, diced
2 Johnsonville italian sausage

1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1 inch dice
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
4 cloves garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1/4 cup hearty red wine
3 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing


  • Cube onion, carrots, red pepper, celery, and garlic.  In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil.  Add the diced bacon and then the 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 the ground beef and season again generously with salt.  Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.
Meat just added and let it brown nicely 
  • Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don't be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the spaghetti. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted.  When the water is at a rolling boil add the spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the ragu from the pot and reserve.
  • Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining ragu. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Turn off the heat and give a big sprinkle of Parmigiano and a generous drizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil. Toss or stir vigorously. Divide the pasta and sauce into serving bowls or 1 big pasta bowl. Top with remaining grated Parmigiano. Serve immediately.

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