Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ragù alla Bolognese

Want to know how I spent my weekend? Besides hanging out with wonderful friends who came to visit we were also baking in the heat and jumping in the pool just to get the slightest bit of relief. Oh yeah, fall is in full swing in Arizona and blessed us with record temperatures of 109 degrees F over the weekend. My head keeps saying, "but it is fall, I want to to wear sweaters, and jeans and eat soups and stews" and my body keeps screaming "cool me off, it's another scorcher, find me the tank top and only feed me ice cream and salads". Quite the conundrum, don't you think?

So seriously, what's a woman (or man) to do when the rest of the country is begging for comfort food, and you as a food blogger have a responsibility to appeal to the crowds? You have to find a happy medium. Something that is comfort food, but also won't make you sit next to your open freezer while you eat that steaming bowl of soup. This is were one of our favorites always helps. Ragù alla Bolognese IS comfort food, but by adding a nice big bowl of salad on the side it fits the "scorcher" requirement as well.

I found this recipe a while back on one of my favorite blogs "Crepes of Wrath". If you haven't visited there, you should. Anyway, I only slightly adapted Sydney's already fabulous recipe to fit our taste and the result ended up "being on the money" as Guy Fieri would say. The recipe starts by sauteing onions, along with celery and carrots in butter. You add in some garlic and bacon, glorious bacon! This gets cooked until the bacon is slightly crisp. Ground beef is added and cooked until no longer pink. Then you throw in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and your usual Italian suspects of basil, thyme and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, some nutmeg, red pepper flakes and bay leaves. This mixture then gets a good dousing of white wine and finally some heavy cream or half-and-half (if you must). The sauce will then hang out for a good hour on your stove which will give you plenty of time to make your salad, cook your pasta and grate your fresh Parmesan (step away from the green can on this dish).

This sauce is out of this world and there are hardly ever any leftovers, but if there are, it tastes just as good if not better the second time around. The sauce is flavorful, rich and has you smacking your lips while eating it. I've served this to friends and family and everyone keeps asking for the recipe which to me always means it is a keeper recipe. I hope you'll give this recipe a try, it is one that works wearing fall gear, but also works while baking in the sun!

Ragù alla Bolognese

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I use 93 % lean)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves
1 cup white wine (don't use cooking wine!)
1/3 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 pound Pasta
Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Melt your butter in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Turn the heat up to medium-high heat and then add in the diced onions, diced celery and diced carrots. Cook for 5 minutes until softened then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

Add in the bacon and cook for 5 minutes or so until slightly crisp. Add in the ground beef and cook for another 5 minutes or until cooked through. Add in the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, dried oregano, basil, thyme, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and bay leaves. Stir to combine.

Add in the white wine and heavy cream (or half-and-half) and stir. Bring the bolognese to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for an hour, stirring every so often so that it doesn't burn.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and add to the bolognese. Stir to combine. Serve and top with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

Adapted from: Crepes of Wrath


  1. This looks and sounds just phenomenal. I can't wait to try it.

  2. I can always enjoy a great pasta dish and yours looks delicious. I have more trouble in the fall, deciding what to wear than what to cook. Our temperature range can be more than 40 degrees in one day.

  3. Oh bacon is ever so glorious, it is!! This ragu sounds GOOD! Your guests are so lucky to have you as their hostess!

    The end of Summer here in Germany has been cold and dreary (I am not complaining!). But ever since the first day of fall it's been warm and super sunny!

  4. Wow, luckily we are done with that kind of heat here! Can I come over for dinner some time? I hear you can make that sauce in a pressure cooker in nothing flat! I'm gonna try it this winter.

  5. Thanks, Susi! I'm definitely trying this one. Oddly enough, the Mark Bittman recipe in Cooking Light this month is for bolognese, but his is "too healthy". I'm going with yours, haha.

    P.S. Made your sloppy joes this week. Huge hit!


  6. Girl... this looks fabulous. And I'm not just whistling dixie when I say that I'm going to be making it very soon.

    By the way, your blog is turning into quite the show piece.

  7. I will trade you one 109 degree day for a dreary, cold, drizzly coastal day!!
    Love the sauce, perfect ingredients, this is one that will be a hit for the whole family!

    even looks more beautiful than the real bolognese made here in Bologna.
    Nesrine. From Bologna ,with love.

  9. This looks so yummy! I like pasta cooked in this way!

  10. 20 degrees cooler and I would be all over this one tonight. They call this the first day of fall?!

  11. Now, that's what I call comfort food! Sorry it's too hot for you to eat it...

  12. Looks and sounds delicious! You can never have too many pasta recipes:)

  13. Bei uns wird es endlich Herbst. Habe gestern Abend zum Treffen meiner deutschen Freundinnen endlich mal wieder eine lange Hose angehabt. Ach war das schoen (die Hose und meine Freundinnen zu sehen).
    Bolognese gibt es bei uns auch sehr oft, da es ein so schnelles, einfaches, aber doch sehr leckeres Essen ist.

  14. Yummy, we are on the same page since I just defrosted a container of meat sauce yesterday even though it is summer here still also... I can't believe we are complaining though... may head to the beach this weekend, provided no rain

  15. This looks really good- I'm wishing I had some for my dinner tonight! Our temps hovered around 100 today and I thought that was bad enough, but 109? It's time for fall!

  16. I love bolognese! Yours looks amazing!

  17. It's still pretty hot in my neck of the woods too - but that wouldn't stop me from eating this hearty bolognese! I'd even go back for seconds. It looks incredibly delicious!

  18. Looks so creamy and yummy! I'm hungry for sure!!

  19. Pasta with Bolognese is one of my favorite all-time things to eat. I've made a recipe very similar to this one and my family always gobbles it up! It's one of those dishes where people will fight over the leftovers (if there are any).I love that you used the campanelle pasta. It looks really pretty!

  20. I love Bolgnese sauce, and it looks fabulous with that type of pasta.

  21. This is a definite comfort food even if it still remains in the low 100's in Arizona. Awesome, hearty pasta dish. You are just getting ready to make the transition to cooler weather:-) Me too, we are still in the 90's and I am craving cooler air and hearty dishes.

  22. Bacon, more meat, tomato sauce, pasta...heaven.

    Here's hoping our entire state will cool down soon! When I woke up to 54 degrees this morning, I had high hopes, but it managed to get into the 80s up here. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must be to have to use AC in September!!!

  23. You've shared another wonderful recipe with us, Susi. It looks and sounds delicious. I wish I could make the heat go away for you. It sounds terrible. Try to have a good weekend. Blessings...Mary

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Sorry for mistake on above removed comment. Your bowl of ragu looks like such a delicious comfort food, I know people who live in the desert get really tired of the extreme hot weather especially in the fall when everybody else is cooling off but soon the rest of us will be wanting to visit AZ for the warm winter weather just around the corner;)

  26. I so know what you mean...I'm ready for cooler weather - Fall/Autumn (or our version of it) and we're expecting a heat wave this weekend. I want soups and baking; sweaters and boots. :) I luv this Ragù alla Bolognese. Pasta is a winner with me. You've presented it beautifully!

  27. Oh my goodness Susi, please come to my house and cook me dinner! That looks sooo good but then again anything with bacon is delicious. YUM! Thanks for sharing the recipe. :)

  28. I'm feeling you! It is still so warm here in Austin. I want to be dipping into soups and casseroles, but it is just still too hot! This is a great dish though...and I think I could eat pasta any day of the year. Thank you for sharing!

  29. Looks great and tasty. I haven't had bacon for a while... Thanks for reminding... :)

  30. Susi - that's one of my favorite dishes and I've not made it forever. I think I'll try your version next time. Looks fantastic!! Kate @ kateiscooking

  31. I'm so, so ready for sweaters and crisp, cool days and comfort food. I love that you've found a comfort food that doesn't make you "stick your head in the freezer" way of putting it! I suppose in a few months, Arizona will be the place to be!

  32. Yum! This would be perfect for me to portion out for freezer lunches. Thick cut bacon, cheese and pasta? I'm in for sure.

  33. Ughh...109 degrees?! It has finally started to cool down here in Indy...a nice, crisp 52 degrees this morning. I am loving the change of seasons, but unfortunately that means winter and snow will soon follow. I will be wishing I lived in Arizona in a few months! Any who, this bolognese looks awesome...this would be a huge hit with my family! :)

  34. This looks amazing! This year has been a crazy one for weather! It's real hot here in Socal! I want some fall weather so I can make soup!!!

  35. This looks fantastic. I love spaghetti bolognese so I'm sure this would fall in the same sighing-with-satisfaction wonderfulness.

  36. Thank you so much for your kind comment on my photo at Tomatoes on the Vine. :-) Your sauce looks SO delicious! Wonderfully thick, hearty and savory. :-)

  37. Excellent recipe! It's hearty and fills all the lil nooks and crannies inside. One correction though....Guy says "That's money" or "So money". No 'on the'. Keep up the good work!

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