It’s been more than a year since I talked about my favorite pasta sauce of all time: Bolognaise. It’s a sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy, thus the name (a city that also gave us bologna, an American version of a sausage made there). I think it is the most satisfying sauce of them all.
If you take your time and make the sauce right, it is rich, hearty, and delicious. But the secret, as with so many recipes, is to take no shortcuts, particularly when it comes to the long slow simmer that is required.
Another vital consideration is the quality of ingredients. Please, please do not substitute parmesan in the can, for the real deal, Imported parmesan Reggiano. Please use the best, imported Italian whole canned tomatoes you can find. It really makes a difference. A good quality Italian olive oil is important too. Fresh herbs are better than dried but need to be added 30 minutes before the sauce is done, otherwise they tend to disappear. There is nothing wrong with using store bought Italian seasoning, just remember to season as you go and taste often.
This is not a sauce that you would serve with fresh pasta. Fresh pasta is best with lighter sauces, and just doesn’t stand up to a hearty Bolognaise. My favorite pasta to serve with Bolognaise is bucatini, a pasta shaped like spaghetti, but is thicker and is hollow, meaning the pasta can absorb more sauce.
I like to make it with the Italian sausage from Rouses, but ground beef is OK too. Just don’t use lean, use the one with the highest fat content you can find. You can use other cuts of beef, like you would for beef stew (make sure to brown it first), but the meat has to stay in the sauce for the entire cooking time to become tender.
Start by browning the meat, season it well. When done remove it and set aside. Add the chopped vegetables (onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper and jalapeño) in the proportions you like. Cook them long and slowing, seasoning as you go, but don’t over do it, just a little bit at a time. Cook for at least 20 minutes. Add a cup of good quality red wine and simmer until it is almost all evaporated. Add the tomatoes, and if you have it, a rind of parmesan.
Again, cook low and slow, stirring and tasting every once in a while. Be careful not to burn it. Once burned, it is ruined. An interesting option is to cook the pasta almost done, then finish it in the sauce. The pasta will absorb a lot more flavor. I always like to serve this dish with good, crusty garlic bread. In my opinion, the best baguettes come from Henry’s Café and Bakery.
One final note, yes, it is correct to twirl the pasta on a fork, but it is an unforgivable sin (to the Italians) to use a spoon!