Beef Bolognese

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Beef Bolognese is a classic Italian meat sauce filled with celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and pancetta. Perfect for spaghetti night or for your next lasagna.

Beef Bolognese | Bites of Bri

Today I am sharing one of my all time favorites. Beef Bolognese is something I’ve worked on perfecting for years. To me, there is nothing that screams spaghetti night like this sauce.

Does your family have a spaghetti night? Growing up, we did not have spaghetti nights. In fact, my first memories of spaghetti come from that iconic scene in Lady and the Tramp. What a flashback.

My dad tells great stories about spaghetti night at his house growing up. In a family with three boys, spaghetti night at their house involved lots of spaghetti stuck to walls and spaghetti throwing. Then, according to my dad anyway, my grandmother would grab them by their hair and threaten them with their lives so that they behaved (at least temporarily). I would have loved to see that!

This bolognese sauce freezes beautifully and makes approximately 8 cups of sauce. I like to freeze half so that I can use it in lasagna without having to make the sauce again.

You will need a food processor to make the Bolognese with this recipe.

Start by chopping your vegetables. You can roughly chop them since they’ll all be going through the food processor.

Beef Bolognese 13 | Bites of Bri

Dice the pancetta. Trader Joe’s sells pancetta that is already cubed, which is an awesome time saver. If you’re going to an Italian market or your regular grocery store, just ask the deli to cut you a round of pancetta ¼” thick or so. You can dice it when you get home.

Beef Bolognese 12 | Bites of Bri   Beef Bolognese 11 | Bites of Bri

Add the mushrooms, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and diced pancetta to the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” shaped blade. Puree until the mixture is pretty smooth. It does not need to look perfect, but you want to make sure all large chunks have been broken down.

Beef Bolognese 10 | Bites of Bri   Beef Bolognese 9 | Bites of Bri

Add 3 tbsp olive oil to a heavy bottomed pot. Add the bay leaves. Turn the heat to medium and add the vegetable-pancetta puree. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Beef Bolognese is not very photogenic, but it is super tasty!

Beef Bolognese 8 | Bites of Bri

Add the 2 pounds of ground beef. I used 93% lean beef for this because the sauce really doesn’t need added fat from 80% lean or even 85%. If you wanted to switch things up, you could add ground pork and/or ground veal as well as the ground beef.

Break up the beef while it browns for 5-10 minutes.

Beef Bolognese 7 | Bites of Bri   Beef Bolognese 6 | Bites of Bri

Add the milk. I used whole milk for this recipe. I recommend using whole milk so that the sauce isn’t too thin. Allow the milk to evaporate for about 10 minutes until most of the liquid is gone.

Beef Bolognese 5 | Bites of Bri

Add the crushed tomatoes and the red wine.  I usually just use wine from the night before. A dry red wine works best for this recipe.

Beef Bolognese 4 | Bites of Bri   Beef Bolognese 3 | Bites of Bri

Simmer the sauce for 1 hour. Then, season it to taste with salt and pepper.  I used 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Depending on your ingredients, you may find that your sauce needs more or less salt. Fish out the bay leaves and enjoy!

Beef Bolognese 2 | Bites of Bri

I hope you enjoy this classic Italian meat sauce as much as I do.  Try it for your next spaghetti night. Top it with fresh ricotta, basil, and/or parsley. Serve it alongside a salad and garlic bread.

Beef Bolognese | Bites of Bri

Spaghetti Bolognese

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 8-10 cups of sauce

Spaghetti Bolognese is the perfect meat sauce to spice up any spaghetti night. Enjoy this sauce over pasta or in lasagna.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms
  • ¼ lb pancetta (if the deli is slicing it for you, ask for 1/4 ”- 1/2” thick slice)
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 large carrots
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 lbs ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • pasta for serving
  • ricotta for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Start by chopping your vegetables. You can roughly chop them since they’ll all be going through the food processor.
  2. Dice the pancetta. Trader Joe’s sells pancetta that is already cubed, which is a super awesome time saver. If you’re going to an Italian market or your regular grocery store, just ask the deli to cut you a round of pancetta ¼” thick or so. You can dice it when you get home.
  3. Add the mushrooms, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and diced pancetta to the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” shaped blade. Puree until the mixture is pretty smooth. It does not need to look perfect, but you want to make sure all large chunks have been broken down.
  4. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to a heavy bottomed pot. Add the bay leaves. Turn the heat to medium and add the vegetable-pancetta puree. Cook for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add the 2 pounds of ground beef. I used 93% lean beef for this because the sauce really doesn’t need added fat from 80% lean or even 85%. If you wanted to switch things up, you could add ground pork and/or ground veal as well as the ground beef.
  6. Break up the beef while it browns for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the milk. I used whole milk for this recipe. I recommend using whole milk so that the sauce isn’t too thin. Allow the milk to evaporate for about 10 minutes until most of the liquid is gone.
  8. Add the crushed tomatoes and the red wine. I usually just use wine from the night before. A dry red wine works best for this recipe.
  9. Simmer the sauce for 1 hour. Then, season it to taste with salt and pepper. I used 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Depending on your ingredients, you may find that your sauce needs more or less salt.
  10. Remove the bay leaves and enjoy over pasta.
http://bitesofbri.com/2014/04/beef-bolognese/

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