Traditionally, meat sauces began with leftover odds and ends of a roast, and were simmered in water, cheap wine, or stock with herbs. Today, an easier and relatively inexpensive substitute is ground meat. For Italy’s famous ragu from Bologna, ground or finely chopped meat works beautifully. “All the Bolognese recipes I’ve seen call for ground meat,” says Jody Adams, chef and owner of Rialto. For her version, she mixes ground beef, pork, and veal, diced pancetta, and liver, and cooks them slowly with wine, milk, stock, and tomatoes. While the tomatoes aren’t necessarily traditional, the Cambridge restaurateur likes the sauce that way. The liver is optional, but it adds richness, she says. The sauce simmers for an hour, then it’s served with a flat pasta such as tagliatelle, which is traditional, pappardelle, or fettucine. On Rialto’s bar menu, the Bolognese is tossed with rigatoni (large tubes). Bolognese sauce is a production, but think of the wonderful results.
|2||tablespoons olive oil|
|4||ounces pancetta, cut into ⅓-inch dice|
|2||medium carrots, finely chopped|
|2||celery stalks, finely chopped|
|1||large leek, chopped (and rinsed well)|
|3||cloves garlic, finely chopped|
|¾||pound ground beef|
|¾||pound ground pork|
|¾||pound ground veal|
|Kosher salt and black pepper|
|½||cup finely chopped chicken liver (optional)|
|1||cup white wine|
|1||can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes|
|1||can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes|
|1½||cups (or more) chicken stock|
|⅓||cup heavy cream|
|¼||cup chopped fresh oregano|
1. In a large flameproof casserole over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until the fat renders and the pancetta is golden. Add the carrots, celery, and leek. Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften. Add the garlic and cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes more.
2. Add the beef, pork, and veal. Turn the heat to medium-high. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook,
using the edge of a large spoon to break up the meat, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the meat browns.
3. Add the milk and liver, if using, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the liquid reduces. Add the wine and simmer 10 to 15 minutes more or until the liquid evaporates almost completely.
4. Stir in the crushed and diced tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally,
for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
5. Add the stock and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the sauce is thick, but not dry. Add a little more stock or water, if necessary.
6. Stir in the cream and cook gently for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Toss with pasta and sprinkle with oregano.
Lisa Zwirn. Adapted from Rialto