While Bolo (Bolo is the industry name for a tomato-based meat sauce, regardless of the pasta) may be what many think of as “traditional” spaghetti sauce, it isn’t.
But, tradition is subjective. The stereo-typical version is what I grew up with. To me, growing up, Bolognese meant ground beef in a tomato sauce.
Today, it is generally accepted as tomato sauce with meat. Originally, the sauce from Bologna was a ragu. Ragu is a meat based sauced, thickened only by tomato.
This sauce was very chunky, with lots of veggies, not just tomato, as we see today. Think garden kitchen sink, any veggies that needed to be used, with whatever meat is on hand.
When I make Bolognese sauce, I make sure there are at least 2 kinds of meat, usually ground pork and beef, but I have been known to use left over pulled pork or scraps from trimming. I also make sure I make a good, fresh tomato sauce to braise the meats in.
The fresh tomato sauce is key, using canned tomatoes is ok, just not canned tomato sauce. Anyone can open cans of various tomato products. The proper cooking of tomatoes, herbs, and other veggies is what shows love. So, normally, I like to make the recipe the last part of the article.
When making a good Bolognese the ingredients are only a guideline, the method is what counts.
Bolognese Sauce Recipe
2 Tbl blended olive oil
4 slices pancetta or bacon, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 can (28 ounces) Plum tomatoes
6 ounces tomato puree
½ cup white wine
½ cup beef stock
1 Tbl fresh basil
1 Tbl fresh oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
The Procedure – How to make bolognaise sauce
Brown the bacon. Add the ground meats and brown. Strain and set meats aside. Saute the onions, carrots, and celery until lightly browned. Add garlic. Cook for 2 more minutes. Add meats back to pan.
Deglaze with the wine and stock. Add mushrooms and tomato products. Cook, adding water, as needed, for 30 minutes. Add fresh herbs, and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Use your Nose
So that’s the basic idea. The important part is to smell and taste your way through each step. The meats should be salted and peppered when they hit heat. The veggies should be seasoned when they hit the pan. Taste, taste, taste. Every time you add an ingredient, you should season and taste. Use your nose. If you can’t smell the fragrance of the ingredients as they cook, we can’t taste it.
Every thing you add should make the mouth water before you add something else. If you can’t smell the garlic, add more or cook longer. The sauce should eventually be an amalgam of flavor. The idea is to get a flavorful, tender combination of ingredients, cooked correctly.
We want to cook the ingredients as long as possible to make everything tender and flavorful. That’s why we keep adding water. Water imparts no flavor, and as we cook water out, we concentrate flavor.
When you are satisfied with the flavor of your sauce, keep it on a low simmer and move on. The pasta you choose to accompany your sauce isn’t that important. Traditionally it would be tagliatelle, but spaghetti is the most common outside of Italy.
What’s really important is the cheese! Some recipes demand Parmigiano. Some require pecorino. Why not both? Another tip, try fresh mozzarella tossed in the warm sauce for a few seconds. Enjoy!