RAGÚ A LA BOLOGNESE
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
1 pound ground beef
4 ounces pancetta, finely diced (substitute with high-quality bacon)
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced into “coins”
1 cup Sherry, or other dry wine
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) tomato paste
2 bay leaves
3 cups beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon seat salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan, finely grated
- Pulse first 3 ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped (about the size/texture of sandy gravel). After processing, set aside in a small bowl for later.
- Heat the olive oil in large sauce pot over medium heat until shimmering and then sauté the ground beef in the oil until cooked. Break meat up with a wooden spoon while it cooks to avoid clumping. After the meat is cooked, transfer to a bowl and return pot to the heat.
- Cook the pancetta in the pot on medium-low heat to render as much fat as possible.
- Add the garlic “coins” to the rendered pancetta fat and as soon as you smell the garlic cooking add the processed onion, carrot and celery mixture. Cook vegetable mixture until the vegetables are soft. It’s ok if the vegetables start sticking to the pan, the caramelization will only enhance the flavor.
- Return the beef to the pot and mix well to combine. Once combined, add the Sherry (or dry wine) and reduce until almost completely evaporated. Continue to break up the meat with the wooden spoon as the wine reduces.
- After the wine is evaporated, add the tomato paste and bay leaf. Cook this mixture for 4-5 minutes or until the tomato paste becomes a bit darker.
- Add the stock, milk and salt to the the pot and bring to a simmer. Next turn heat to low and allow mixture to slowly cook for 3 hours, or until meat is really tender. If the mixture ever looks over dry or reduced add a bit more stock or water to keep the sauce moist (should be roughly the consistency of all-meat chili or sloppy Joe mix.
- Taste and add more salt if desired.
- When ready to serve, add half of the cheese to the sauce. Serve tossed with pasta and the remaining cheese, or use in your favorite Lasagne recipe (or serve simply with grilled bread).