I came across this IGTV video of one of my favorite Food Network chefs, Scott Conant yesterday. He was in his kitchen making a bolognese/ragu. It looked so super yummy. I just knew I had to try. Although, he did not necessarily give the “recipe.” He did stress that this sauce is more about the technique and how to develop the flavor during the cooking process. All told, it will take about three to four hours, but oh so worth every single second. This is the best pasta bolognese sauce you will ever make!
Be prepared to spend the first forty-five minutes or so hovering over the pot. This is a crucial part of the process. You need a heavy bottom (oven-safe) pot…I used my favorite enameled cast iron pan from Lodge. Click here! As for the meat, we both used ground beef. You can substitute with ground pork, veal, lamb, or a combination of any of these. Serve with a pasta that can really “hold” the sauce. I used ziti. Every single pasta tube was filled nicely with the rich bolognese. This sauce also reminds me of my Spicy Sausage Cream Sauce.
Heat, to medium-high, a tablespoon or so of the oil (Scott used sunflower, I used a light olive oil…you want to use an oil that does not have a strong flavor). Add in your minced carrots, celery and onions. Notice the ratio of the vegetables (onions 50%, carrots, 25 %, celery 25%). Season with kosher salt. Allow them to basically “fry” up and caramelize just a bit in the pot. This should take about eight to ten minutes. Keep stirring.
Add the ground meat to the vegetables. Season with kosher salt. Now this is where the fun begins and is probably the most important part of the process. You will notice that when the meat starts to cook, there will be a lot of liquid. You want that liquid to basically “cook” off. It will…just will take a little bit of time. Once the liquid cooks off…the meat will start to fry and brown. This is what you want! See the progression in the photos below. Notice the last photo…the bottom of the pot has all of that browned goodness.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add in the wine. I used just about half a bottle. You want to add enough wine to almost cover the meat mixture. Allow the wine to reduce (sorry about the bad photo). Reduce the wine to the point at which the meat mixture is starting to “fry” up again. Add in the strained tomatoes. Season with a touch more kosher salt. Allow to cook for a few more minutes. Add in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. You should notice that the sauce has more of a brownish color, than red…this is what you want! Taste…may need a touch more salt. Cover with lid and place in oven for about an hour and a half to two hours. Stir occasionally just to be sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
Just before you are ready to remove the sauce from the oven, start a pot of water boiling. Be sure to salt the water. Remove sauce from oven and place back on stove at medium-high. Add in the milk or heavy whipping cream. Stir. You will notice the color of the sauce has blondish hue. This is what you want.
Spoon about half of the sauce into a deep saucepan. Heat to medium-high. When the pasta is just about seventy-five percent of the way cooked, start adding it directly to the sauce with a slotted spoon. Stir to coat the pasta. Allow to cook in the sauce a few minutes…tossing often. This process will allow the pasta starch to cook with the sauce and create a nice marriage. If your mixture seems to dry, add more of the sauce or a touch of the pasta water.
Remove pan from heat. Add in the butter. Toss. Sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese. Toss to coat the pasta. Drizzle on a touch more sunflower or light olive oil.
Serve immediately and ENJOY this amazing Pasta Bolognese Sauce!