Ragu Bolognese

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 pounds ground beef chuck, preferably chili grind

3 ounces pancetta, diced

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 large carrot, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1/3 cup red wine

1 cup milk

1 14 ½-ounce can diced tomatoes

3 cups beef broth

1 bay leaf

Generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt

 

Heat a large, heavy pot over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add half of the beef and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, tossing about 2 times, until crusty and brown in spots.* Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef to a plate. Sear the remaining beef in the same manner and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium, add the pancetta to the pot, and fry, tossing frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the onion and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft. Add the celery and carrot and sauté for another 5 to 6 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and tomato paste and sauté 2 to 3 minutes more, or until fragrant. Add the wine and simmer for a minute or so, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a heat-proof spatula. Return the beef to the pot and add the milk in thirds, simmering for 2 to 3 minutes, or until nearly dry, after each addition. Add the tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, nutmeg, and a generous pinch of pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 hours, or until thickened and saucy and the flavors come together. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Makes enough for 10 to 12 portions of Fresh Egg Pasta. Traditionally, this sort of sauce is made with diced beef. A great shortcut to all that dicing is chili grind, which is very coarsely ground. Toss al dente pasta with the ragu, top with plenty of grated Parmegiano-Reggiano, and serve immediately. This time, I topped homemade extruded macaroni (made with 10 ounces all-purpose flour and 3 large eggs) with my ragu.

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