This is easy. This is delicious. This feeds everyone. This is Italian, and I love it.
Bolognese is a meat based sauce (“ragu”) originating from Bologna, Italy. It’s a complex and slow cooking sauce. My variation is made up of pancetta, a mixture of ground beef/veal/pork, onion, celery, carrots, dry red wine, crushed tomatoes, herbs, and a touch of half and half. NUMMIES!
Growing up, I remember my mom feeding all of us at various different times of the night. This was especially the case in the fall. On busy weeknights, she would often prepared meals that could be reheated or left on a low oven setting. Here’s an ideal sauce for that situation. Leave a pot of this delicioso-o sauce in your crock pot on the “keep warm” setting. Have some cooked noodles on standby in the fridge, and grate up lots of parmesan cheese. Everyone can get a delicious meal on their own schedule.
Busy schedule? In need of a tasty dinner for everyone? You must add this “healthier” bolognese sauce to your repertoire.
On the weekends, I like to prep this dish in the morning. I’ll enjoy an afternoon with family, friends, football, (maybe a beer or 2) and return home to a carbalicious bowl of delicious pasta to sop up the afternoon shenanigans.
Enjoy this sauce over your favorite noodle, spaghetti squash, or along side a chunk of fresh bread and a salad.
- 6 oz pancetta, diced into small cubes
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 lb lean ground beef (I used 90% lean)
- 1/2 lb ground veal
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
- 2 – 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp Italian sausage seasoning (if you do not have this seasoning you can use 1 tsp ground fennel seed, make your own, or leave it out)
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
- salt and fresh pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup half & half cream
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil for serving
Heat a large saute pan over low heat, add pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes until fat has rendered and pancetta begins to crisp. Increase heat to medium and add butter, onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook for 10-12 minutes until vegetables are soft, stirring often. Add tomato paste, stir into vegetable mixture and cook for 1 minute. Add ground beef, veal, and pork, season with salt, pepper, and Italian sausage seasoning. Cook until meat has browned and is cooked through (about 8 minutes). With a wooden spoon, break the ground beef up as finely as possible. Add wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any crispy bits. Allow wine to reduce for 2-3 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and add to your crock pot.
To the ground beef mixture, add tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook on low for approximately 8 hours (more or less is fine).
Once finished, adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add parsley and half and half. Stir to combine.
Serve over your favorite pasta, spaghetti squash, or crusty bread and salad. Top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Servings: 10 (Serving size: 1 cup)
Note: I like to freeze leftovers in 1 cup increments. To reheat, allow sauce to thaw overnight in the refrigerator (or defrost in the microwave) and reheat on the stove.
To make on the stove top, follow instructions as is through reducing the wine (best to cook this in a large pot verses a saute pan). At this point, add tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook on the stove top for 2 – 2 1/2 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning, add parsley and half and half. Stir to combine.
Recipe adapted from Skinnytaste Crockpot Bolognese Sauce