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Recipes

Asha's Bolognese Sauce

Recipe By: Asha Loupy

Makes: 6 cups

Asha's Bolognese Sauce
Photo by:  

Melati Citrawireja

Bolognese is a labor of love—from taking the time to finely dice the soffritto to building flavors layer by layer. This is not a sauce meant for busy worknights, this is a long, leisurely weekend cook—one where you can linger in the kitchen chopping vegetables (ideally with a glass of wine by your side) and enjoy your house slowly filling with enticing aromas as the sauce gently burbles away on the stove for a couple hours.

I must admit: This is the best bolognese I've ever made. The addition of dairy—a traditional ingredient in classic bolognese—is pure alchemy, effortlessly weaving the smokiness of the Sirārakhong Hāthei chillies, delicate sweetness of the Peni Miris Cinnamon, and fragrant nutmeg through the whole sauce. Plus, the whole milk works its magic on the meat, too, tenderizing it and turning it silky and sumptuous. My other secret ingredient? Doenjang, or fermented soy bean paste. It gets caramelized along with the tomato paste, adding a deep umami funk that will keep you coming back for bite after bite.

Enjoy with egg pappardelle, rigatoni (the ridges and tubes really catch the sauce, SWOON), or spoon over creamy polenta. This sauce is rich, so I find that half of the pot comfortably feeds 3 to 4 people, when paired with pasta or polenta, plus a side salad or vegetable. Do your future self a favor and freeze the other half. That way you can defrost long-cooked flavor and cozy comfort after a lonnnng day!

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground Aranya Black Pepper
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery or 3 to 4 fennel stalks, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons powdered Sirārakhong Hāthei Chillies
  • 1 teaspoon Peni Miris Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated Anamalai Nutmeg
  • One 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 bay leaves

Methods

  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add the ground beef in large crumbles, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and cook, undisturbed, until deeply brown and caramelized on one side, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate or large bowl. Repeat the browning process with the pork and transfer the browned pork to the plate with the beef.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, celery or fennel, and the remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and stir, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. 
  3. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and doenjang, and cook, stirring frequently until the tomato paste turns brick red, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the powdered chillies, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes are reduced by half and are starting to fry in the oil, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add the white wine and the reserved browned beef and pork, and, using a wooden spatula or potato masher, start to break up the meat into tiny crumbles (you’re aiming for the meat to be the same size as the finely diced, cooked vegetables). Continue to break the meat into crumbles while the wine is cooking down, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chicken stock, milk, and bay leaves, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is meltingly tender and the sauce has reduced by about one third, about 2 to 2½ hours (don't worry if some of the fat starts to separate after cooking—that's a mark of a good bolognese, and prized by many Italians).
  6. Enjoy with egg pappardelle, rigatoni (or, any short, ridged cut of pasta), or spoon over creamy polenta.