Weeknight Pasta Bolognese

  • Currently 4/5
A delicious and relatively quick Italian Bolognese sauce, prepared and cooked in the traditional Cicilian style. A great pair to turn any pasta dish into a full-bodied and hearty meal. One of my personal favorites!
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/4 cups sweet white wine (see note)
1/2 small carrot, peeled and chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 small onion, chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/4 cup)
3 oz pancetta, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (1/2 tsp)
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 1/4 lbs meatloaf mix (or equal amounts 80% lean ground beef, ground veal, or ground pork)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp tomato paste
table salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb pasta
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
1. Cover porcini mushrooms with 1/2 cup water in a small microwave-safe bowl; cover bowl with plastic wrap and cut a few steam vents with a paring knife.  Microwave on high power for 30 seconds.  Let stand until mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. 

Using a fork, lift porcini from liqurid and transfer to a second small bowl.  Pour soaking liquid through a paper towel-lined mesh strainer.  Set porcini and strained liquid aside.

2. Bring wine to simmer in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer until wine is reduced to 2 Tbsp, about 20 minutes.  Set reduced wine aside.
3. Meanwhile, pulse carrot in food processor until broken down into rough 1/4-icnh pieces, about 10 one-second pulses.  Add onion, pulse until vegetables are broken down into 1/8-inch pieces, about 10 one-second pulses.  Transfer vegetables to a small bowl.

Process softened porcini until well-ground, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl if necessary; transfer to a small bowl.  Pulse tomatoes with juice until chopped fine, 6 to 8 one-second pulses.
4. Heat butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  When foaming subsides, add pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 2 minutes.

Add carrot, onion, and porcini; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, but not browned, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic and sugar; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add ground meats, breaking meat into 1-inch pieces with wooden spoon, about 1 minute.

Add milk and stir to break meat into 1/2-inch bits; bring to simmer and reduce heat to medium.  Continue to simmer, stirring to break up meat into small pieces, until most of the liquid has evaporated and meat beings to sizzle, 18-20 minutes.  (Begin step 5)

Stir in tomato paste and cook until combined, about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, reserved porcini soaking liquid, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper.  Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced and sauce is thickened but still moist, 12-15 minutes.

Stir in reduced wine and simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, bring 4 qts water to a rolling boil, covered, in a stockpot.  Add salt and pasta, stirring to separate, and cook until al dente.

Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, and return pasta to stock pot.  Add 2 cups sauce and 2 Tbsp pasta water to pasta, adding remaining pasta water, as necessary, to help distribute sauce.

Divide pasta among individual bowls and top each portion with about 1/4 cup remaining sauce.

Serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.
Serves 4-6.

Sweet white wines such a Gewurztaminer, Riesling, and even white Zinfandel work especially well with this sauce. 

To obtain the best texture, be careful not to break up the meat too much when cooking it with the milk in step 4.  With additional cooking and stirring, it will continue to break up.

Obtained from cooksillustrated.com
Meal   DinnerCuisine   Italian
Dish   Main DishCooking Method   Simmer
Main Ingredient   PastaPrep Time   45 minutes
Cooking Time   1 hour

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