If you’ve found your way to this recipe, it’s likely because you know this is one of my favorites. I’d be torn as to what my last meal on earth would be, but this would certainly make the short list. I’ve made it before and it’s been good. Somehow when Ken makes it, it’s otherworldly. As a result, I’m always happy to play sous chef and help chop and taste (usually I taste a bit more often than is truly necessary to the success of the dish), but this is really his domain. Wait for that first winter day when you crave an excuse to stay inside, sit by the fire, and watch the windows fog up from the heat of the kitchen. Start this sauce around noon. Make lunch little more than a light snack and you’ll be ready for an early dinner. Pour that first glass of wine just as twilight starts to blanket the sky, make a salad, boil water for pasta, and be sure the seasoning on the sauce is just right. Then enjoy a life-affirming bowl of Bolognese. But don’t be greedy. Resist the temptation to have seconds and instead freeze the rest for an easy weeknight dinner. It will be hard to do, but you’ll thank me.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped pancetta (2 to 3 thick slices)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 can(28 ounces) whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half (or more to taste)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Method

In a large, deep pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until it begins to color on the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a small bowl. Reserve the fat in the pan.

Return the pan to medium heat, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Return the pancetta to the pan and add the pork, veal, and beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring to break up any clumps, until the meat is brown throughout, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the wine to deglaze the pan and cook until it reduces by about half. Add the tomatoes (and their juices) and chicken stock. Reduce the heat to medium-low and use a wooden spoon to gently break up the tomatoes a bit. Continue to cook at a low simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

When the mixture is quite thick, add the cream and taste again, adjusting the amount of cream and salt and pepper to suit your taste. Serve over pasta with the Parmesan cheese.

Pour that first glass of wine just as twilight starts to blanket the sky, make a salad, boil water for pasta, and be sure the seasoning on the sauce is just right. Then enjoy a life-affirming bowl of Bolognese.

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