I planned poorly this week.  I invited a friend (and career expert) for dinner tomorrow tonight without checking my work calendar.  Turns out I won’t be home until around 7:00 and my dinner guest is supposed to arrive at 7:00.  Yikes.  So, since I didn’t plan the schedule well I had to plan the meal well.  Pasta is easy and fast, but takes a little something extra to make it worthy of serving to a guest.  So I decided to make bolognese today for serving tomorrow.

I used a Marcella Hazan recipe.  I do love her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Ragu alla Bolognese is a thick meat sauce.  Done per Ms. Hazan’s instructions it cooks for hours.  The process of reducing the sauce concentrates and develops the flavors. The ingredients are very simple so the cooking really counts.  The instruction is to use a heavy pot that will hold the heat and to cook the sauce for several hours at the slowest possible simmer.  My stove represents a special challenge in this regard.  The lowest setting on my gas burners is just too high.  I have a difficult time reaching a very slow simmer even in my heaviest pots.  What this means is that my sauce required a lot of attention to keep it from burning on the bottom.  I had to stir every 10-15 minutes and add water every 30 minutes or so.  Not difficult, but a major pain in the patootie.  I ended up moving my laptop into the kitchen and just working from the bar in there for convenience sake.

The sauce is really good and very hearty.  Perfect for a last minute dinner on a cold evening.  The plan is to serve it with a crusty bread and an arugula, white bean and lemon  salad.

Good? Definitely.  Really, really good.
Easy? Nope. This requires a lot of time and attention. Totally worth it.
Good for company? Let’s hope so.  (Yep).
Special shopping? Not at all.

I can’t reprint the Hazan recipe here for copyright reasons, but here’s one that’s a decent approximation.  If you’re really interested in Italian cooking Hazan’s book is a really good investment.

Ragu Bolognese


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a 6 to 8 quart heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and cook until the vegetables are translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the veal, pork and pancetta, increase heat to high, and brown the meat, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste, milk, wine, and thyme and bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Season the ragu with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, and let cool if not using immediately. (The ragu can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; it can also be frozen for up to 1 month).


2 Responses to “Bolognese”

  1. Laura Says:

    Trying this tonight. Off the current recipe, have you posted your meatloaf recipe? That one i would like to see. Thanks for the inspiration. See you next week.

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