There’s an amazing little Italian restaurant called Pomodori in Hilton Head, SC. The head chef and owner, Amanda, studied her culinary genius in Italy. It was there where I had my first bite of authentic Bolognese and I was an instant fan! After explaining to me her process, I went on the hunt for a similar recipe and lucked upon this delicious (close second) version online.
I’ve since made it numerous times for all my friends and family, who’ve also fell in love with “the sauce”. I have to admit, it’s probably one of my most requested and talked about meals!
Because I made this sauce earlier in the week, and I’d rather not bore anyone with another straight up spaghetti alla bolognese (or any other loose pasta noodle), I remade our leftovers into Lasagna alla Bolognese for tomorrow’s dinner! I have included the recipe for both the bolognese sauce and for the lasagna! Feel free to separate them and use the bolognese sauce atop your favorite noodle instead! And also, keep in mind this takes about 4 hours for the bolognese sauce alone, so you might consider making it a day ahead (or making a loose pasta dish and using the leftover sauce for the lasagna).
Here’s what you’ll need:
For the bolognese:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, finely and evenly diced
4 small or 2 large carrots, peeled and finely and evenly diced
4 stalks celery, finely and evenly diced
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
4-ounces diced pancetta (1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes)
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/4 lb extra lean ground beef
1-1/4 lb ground pork
1 cup dry white wine like Chardonnay (or beef broth if you’re in a pinch)
2 cups whole milk
1 (28-ounce) can of high-quality diced italian tomatoes (I prefer Cento or Tuttorosso brand)
1 cup beef stock
Place a large saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter and oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic with a good pinch of salt and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the diced pancetta and cook for a further 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and pancetta is golden. (I typically scoot the veggies out to the sides and put the pancetta in the middle, otherwise it never gets golden enough).
(borrowed image from original recipe)
Increase the heat to high and add the meat a 1/6th at a time. I like to alternate beef and pork. Break any big clumps up into very small pieces. Adding the meat gradually allows the water to evaporate and the meat to brown instead of steam, this is very important!
After your last addition, when no pink can be spotted and no clumps remain, set a timer for 15 minutes. You want your meat to caramelize and even become crispy in spots. More water will evaporate, and the flavors will concentrate. You want golden bits of meat stuck to the bottom of the pan- this flavorful crust will be deglazed with the white wine. Watch over your pan as you don’t want the meat to burn. When you see some serious caramelization action happening, reduce the heat to medium to reach the end of your 15-minute sauteing time (it depends on your stove).
Over medium heat, pour in the white wine. With a wooden spoon move the meat around, scraping up all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. By the time you’ve finished the wine will be evaporated, about 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to let the meat stick again, lower the heat if necessary.
Add milk, diced tomatoes (with liquid), beef stock, 1 teaspoon salt and a good grinding of pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower to the lowest heat and simmer slowly, half-covered, for 4 hours. Stir every once in a while. If your sauce starts sticking, lower the heat (if possible) and/or add more beef stock or water. In the end the sauce should be thick, more oil-than water-based and thick like oatmeal. Adjust the seasoning one last time- don’t be afraid of adding more salt (tasting it each time you add some), it is this recipe’s key seasoning.
For the lasagna:
1/2 recipe of bolognese sauce (above)
1 box of lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
1 lb (16-ounces) of part-skim mozzarella, grated
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
2/3 cup parmigiano reggiano
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9″x 13″ pan with a layer of bolognese sauce, and top with a layer of lasagna noodles (4 to 5 noodles depending on your pan). Add another generous layer of bolognese sauce, topped with a generous helping of mozzarella. Add another layer of lasagna noodles, topped with the 2-cups of ricotta cheese, spread evenly. Add another layer of lasagna noodles, topped with another generous layer of bolognese, and mozzarella. Top with the final layer of lasagna noodles, the remaining bolognese, mozzarella and finally the parmigiano reggiano.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
Uncover and bake an additional 10-minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
Let rest for 5-minutes before serving.
Let me know how you like this one, and GO EAT SOMETHING!