A true, classic Bolognese is made with ingredients such as veal, pancetta and a good beef stock. When you are cooking on a shoestring budget, veal and pancetta aren’t the sort of ingredients you typically throw into the shopping cart. Not to mention the fact that some people object to veal from a purely ethical standpoint.
Years ago, I fell in love with Bolognese – having my first bite at Dan Tana’s little unassuming Italian eatery in West Hollywood. (And, yeah – it truly is where the stars dine. As the evening progressed, I began to feel that ours was the only non-celebrity table in the joint). Our dining companion that evening was a friend of a friend, and a regular at Dan Tana’s. Without ordering, they brought him a perfectly grilled Filet Mignon that was smothered in a beautiful Bolognese sauce. Yeah, a steak covered in a meaty sauce – talk about over the top! I began ordering anything with Bolognese whenever we dined at a good Italian restaurant. Yum. Couldn’t get enough of the stuff – so rich, meaty and delicious. (And just for the record, Spaghetti Bolognese was first made popular among Germans, not Italians. You won’t even find Spaghetti Bolognese on the menu in Italy).
Circumstances and life in general changed. Gone were the days of dining out on a regular bases. Gone were the days when shopping for “top shelf” ingredients was a regular habit. Still, I loved Bolognese anything. The challenge became a way to cook up a sauce that was rich, meaty and incredibly delicious without the use of the traditional, more expensive ingredients. Pancetta was easy to substitute – bacon would do the trick. Veal, well there is no substitute to the mild, milky flavor of veal. Yet using ground beef alone over-powered the sauce. I needed a ground meat that was mild, with good texture that could complement the ground beef and bring a certain quality to the final dish. Lean ground pork gave the sauce that extra layer of meaty goodness without demanding too much attention. The results are a rich, creamy sauce that is so unbelievably flavorful. Whenever I make this dish, it gets rave reviews.
1 Jar Pasta Sauce – favorite
1 lb Lean Ground Beef
1 lb Lean Ground Pork
4 strips Bacon, cooked crisp
1/4 Cup Red Wine
1/2 Cup Carrots, chopped fine
1/2 Cup Onion, chopped fine
1/4 to 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb. tagliatelle or fettuccine (preferably fresh)
Finely chop carrots, onion and garlic. Set aside until ready to use.
Cook bacon crisp in a large skillet. Remove bacon, set aside. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon bacon grease.
Add onion, carrots and garlic, sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add ground beef and pork, cook 10-15 minutes or until browned evenly. Drain off excess fat.
Add pasta sauce, wine and Italian seasonings. Bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Place pasta noodles into boiling water, stirring to keep from pasta from lumping together. Maintain boil to keep the pasta “dancing” throughout the cooking process. Cook al dente, about 5 minutes for fresh, 10 if using dried pasta. Drain noodles
When starting the pasta, add enough whipping cream to the sauce to change the color to a pale reddish-pink color. Taste and adjust as needed. Sauce should be rich in flavors. Continue to simmer until hot. Serve over pasta, toss to mix.
Sauce can also be made in a crock pot and allowed to simmer for up to 8 hours. Remove cover from crock pot during last 30 minutes to allow sauce to thicken. Add cream at the end.
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