Pasta is clearly one of my favorite foods. It comes in a ton of different varieties, it’s comforting, and it’s so versatile to go with almost any sauce. Keeping it classic here, a good bolognese from scratch should always be in your back pocket.
Every great sauce starts with a great base. In this recipe our base is going to be olive oil, pancetta, shallot, garlic, and carrot (more on that later). “Stephanie, I have bacon can I use that instead of pancetta?” in short, yes you can. Bacon and pancetta are from the same cut of the pig the pork belly, the main difference is bacon is smoked and pancetta is not. So if you use bacon, it will add a smokey flavor to a dish that may mess with the flavor profile but won’t completely ruin the dish.
If you have made my meatball recipe with homemade sauce, you have seen me put grated carrot into my sauce base before. This makes the sauce less acidic due to the sweetness in the carrot which helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes. It also adds great texture and body to the sauce, as well as added nutrition.
You’re going to let this cook until the shallots become translucent, about 5 minutes. Then you’ll add the minced garlic and cook that another minute until it becomes fragrant.
Then we are going to add 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes to our base. You’re going to lower the heat to simmer, cover, and let the tomatoes break down for 15 minutes. Now we will work on the beef.
I used ground sirloin because it’s more lean, but ground chuck will work fine. After the meat is browned, you’re going to add crushed red pepper flakes, and white wine. Adding the wine, the alcohol will deglaze and enhance the flavor of the beef. Once the liquid is gone, this means the alcohol is cooked off.
It’s optional to pass the immersion blender in the sauce before adding the meat. I lightly passed it through so I still had nice chunks of tomato in it.
Add the beef and stir it into the sauce. I then added heavy cream (traditionally bolognese is with milk), but I thought the cream made the sauce more well rounded.
Stir the sauce, set to simmer, and allow the flavors to meld while the pasta cooks.
Spoon the sauce over your pasta of choice. Above I used pappardelle, but I have also used orecchiette and mixed it directly into the pasta because I love how the sauce gets in the little cups, see below.
I served it with my homemade garlic bread, which was perfect for dipping and scooping in the sauce. I highly recommend making it along side! Then grated from fresh parmesan over the top.
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A made from scratch Bolognese sauce that is full of flavor served over pasta.
- 1 lb ground sirloin (or ground chuck)
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 can (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 tbsp + 3 tbsp olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large shallot, minced (about 3 tbsp)
- 1 medium carrot grated (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (125ml mini bottle)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (or milk)
- 1lb pappardelle or orecchiette, cooked al dente
- Fresh parmesan for garnish
- In a dutch oven over medium heat, add 3 tbsp olive oil and pancetta. Cook, stirring, for 5-7 minutes until pancetta begins to crisp. Add the shallots, garlic, carrots, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Allow to cook for another 5-7 minutes until shallots become translucent. Add in the whole peeled tomatoes, lower the heat to simmer, and cover for 15 minutes to allow the tomatoes to break down.
- In a medium skillet, over medium heat add 3 tbsp olive oil and ground sirloin. Brown beef, about 7 minutes. Once beef is browned, add crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, and white wine. Allow wine to deglaze until liquid is gone, about 5 minutes.
- Uncover sauce, break up tomato chunks with a spoon or lightly pass immersion blender to smooth a bit, but you want the sauce to be a bit chunky. Add the browned beef to the sauce, the heavy cream, and stir. Allow sauce to simmer while you cook the pasta.
- In a large pot, cook pasta until al dente (time depends on the type of pasta, follow package directions). If using orecchiette you can directly mix it into the sauce, or if using pappardelle you can spoon the bolognese over the top.
- Serve with freshly grated parmesan over the top and optional garlic bread on the side. Enjoy!
- If you do not have pancetta, you can substitute with non-flavored bacon, but the bacon will add smokey flavor to the dish. To get rid of the smokiness you can boil for 2 minutes before continuing with the dish.
Keywords: bolognese, bolognese sauce, meat sauce, ground beef