Sunday, December 11, 2011

Special Request- Bolognese Sauce

This week, I've gotten a special request, a plea, for a truly phenomenal Bolognese Sauce. So, here it is. Traditionally, Ragu alla Bolognese, a sauce that originated in northern Italy's Bologna is made with ground beef and pork, some vegetables, and enhanced with milk or cream and seasonings... So, it is obvious why a Kosher cook might have trouble duplicating an authentic Bolognese sauce. Throughout the years, I've pursued many Kosher cookbooks searching for a great meat sauce recipe, but often times what I found were recipes loaded with ketchup and sugar, more 'sweet & sour' than a truly hearty and full-bodied Bolognese. So, after a bit of experimentation, and some mixing and matching, I found a way  to achieve a gorgeously thick, rich tasting, aromatic meat sauce. It is simple and only uses a select few ingredients including: caramelized onions, carrots, celery, ground beef, tomato sauce and lots and lots of good red wine. It is important to note that the onions, carrots, and celery are added not to make it a vegetable-meat sauce, but these three vegetables combined formed what is called in the culinary world, "mirepoix". Mirepoix is a mixture of diced onions, carrots and celery to form a flavor-base to season sauces and stews. Mirepoix is often used in French cuisine, and often 'melts away' into the sauce, without ever being noticed, or is actually removed before completing the sauce. The mirepoix in this Bolognese sauce, in addition to the red wine, is what takes this meat sauce to the next level. Also, there is one more secret ingredient. When I was in Italy a few years ago, I met a woman who told me the secret to her Bolognese came from her mother's recipe. Once the sauce was cooked completely, she would stir in a tiny amount of good honey, just to release the sweetness. I have incorporated this secret into my recipe, and I love the results. This combination is what takes it from homemade tasting to gourmet tasting. When you taste it, you will understand. Let me show you how. 

Kim's Bolognese Sauce
yields about 10 cups- 1 huge pot

3 yellow onions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 carrots, grated
3 celery ribs, grated
2 bay leaves
one 6 ounce can tomato paste
3 cups good, dry red wine (don't be cheap- something you would enjoy drinking an entire glass of!)
about 60 ounces simple tomato sauce (you can use four-15 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes or 2 jars of marinara sauce as well, the simpler the better)
2.5 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
lots of Kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon good honey

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the grated carrots, celery, and bay leaf. Cook, covered, for an additional 5 minutes. Uncover, and stir in the tomato paste, incorporating it into the vegetables. Pour in 2 cups of wine, and stir in. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Crumble in the ground beef, and using a wooden spoon, stir it into the vegetables, breaking it apart into small pieces. Pour the tomato sauce over, and bring to a boil. Cover partially, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often, and continuing to break the meat into small pieces. Add the remaining 1 cup of wine, and the dried basil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Reduce the temperature to medium, and cook, partially covered for another 40 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and cooked to perfection. Taste. Adjust the seasoning to your liking. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the honey. This recipe makes a huge quantity, but luckily the sauce freezes beautifully. I use it in lasagna as well. 
Caramelize the onions 
 Grate the celery and carrots
 Add the carrots and celery to the caramelized onions
 Add the bay leaves
 Stir in the tomato paste
 Pour in the wine. Pour yourself a glass too, while you are at it!
 Crumble in the ground beef
 Break the meat into small pieces
 Add the tomato sauce
 Cook to perfection
 Taste and adjust seasoning
 Stir in the secret ingredient: Honey


  1. I like to read this nice post. this is give a little idea to make a new recipe. That's give a nice suggestion and give a batter idea to make a different recipe. I get a good idea for making a Kim's Bolognese Sauce.


  2. i can not wait 2 try this recipe tomorrow night! Since i am not a wine drinker can you recommend a good red dry wine?? thanks

  3. Thank you Kim. A great dish for sure. Used 3.33 lb of extra lean chopped meat, kept everything the same otherwise. Kudos