Classic Ragu Bolognese with Beef, Veal and Pancetta

So you’ve decided to have a few friends over for a mid-week supper. Great! Pick out a nice bottle of wine, some bread from your favorite bakery and toss a simple salad. All easy stuff. However; a true Ragu Bolognese takes time. Do you leave work early? Not necessarily. This Ragu Bolognese can be cooked up on a Sunday, to be served up on a Wednesday without diluting the rich flavor.

Some of you might recall my Fettuccine Bolognese (That’s Inexpensive and Easy to Make). Unlike the classic Bolognese, a quick and inexpensive Bolognese relies on jarred spaghetti sauce, sausage and bacon. The Classic Bolognese is made with veal and pancetta – two expensive types of meat when compared to sausage and bacon. The sauce is made with a beef stock, red wine and tomato paste. I adore both renditions. One is for family, the other for company or when I am in the mood to strut my stuff.

To speed up the chopping process, a food processor will make quick work of this. I like to quickly chop the onions, celery and carrots into chunks and toss them together into my food processor fitted with a blade. A few quick pulses and my vegetables are ready to go.

Classic Beef-Veal Ragu Bolognese
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
6 oz. ground beef (85% lean)
6 oz. ground veal
3 oz. thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 cups (about) beef stock, divided
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk
1 lb. Tagliatelle or other flat wide pasta (preferably fresh egg)
Finely grated Parmesan (for serving)

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots. Saute until soft, 8-10 minutes.

Add beef, veal, and pancetta; saute, breaking up with the back of a spoon, until browned, about 15 minutes. Note: If too much fat is gathering in the pan, strain off the excess before continuing.

Add wine; boil 1 minute, stirring often and scraping up browned bits. Add 2 1/2 cups stock and tomato paste; stir to blend. Reduce heat to very low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan; gradually add to sauce. Cover sauce with lid slightly ajar and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until milk is absorbed, about 45 minutes, adding more stock by 1/4-cupfuls to thin if needed.

DO AHEAD: Ragu can be made 2 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Transfer ragu to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pasta and toss to coat. Stir in some of the reserved pasta water by tablespoonfuls if sauce seems dry. Draw pasta well through the ragu. Transfer to a nice serving platter and enjoy!

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