March 31, 2003
Ragu Bolognese

A slow day calls for a slow cooked meal. You can find an almost unlimited variety of recipes for ragu bolognese, each one claiming to be authentic. Some use red wine, some use white wine; some use tomatoes, others just tomato paste. The only claims I can make about the authenticity of this one is that Nadia learned it in Italy while taking a cooking class. No doubt it is the recipe that the teacher's mother or grandmother used. We have been very satisfied with this recipe in the past and tonight was no exception. In fact, I think tonight's version was one the better ones that we have made. I let the meat cook for longer than usual and achieved an excellent brown crust. It bordered on the edge of burnt, but it gave a wonderfully rich and complex flavor to the dish.

Ragu Bolognese

1-2 tbs butter
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/4 lb chopped pancetta (or bacon)
1 lb ground chuck
1 1/4 cups red wine
1 1/4 cups beef stock
4 tbs tomato paste
2-5 tbs heavy cream

In a large pot over medium-high heat, sauté vegetables in butter and oil until soft, 5-8 minutes. Add pancetta and meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is well browned, 10-15 minutes. If you get it nice and browned the meat should start sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add wine, scraping the bottom of the pot, and simmer over medium heat until it doesn't smell of alcohol any more. Add tomato paste and 1 cup of beef stock. Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more stock if the ragu looks dry. After 1 1/2 hours, stir in cream and cook until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Serve over pasta or in a lasagna