Classic Italian Bolognese
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 2 pounds ground beef chuck
- 2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup red wine
- 4 bay leaves
- Bundle of thyme, tied together
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- Prep the aromatics—Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place onion, carrots, and celery in food processor and puree till finely chopped. Add aromatics to sauté pan along with a generous sprinkling of salt. Sauté, stirring frequently, until water evaporates, veggies are browned, and your kitchen smells amazing, about 15 minutes.
- Brown the beef—Add ground beef to skillet and sprinkle generously with salt. Cook, stirring frequently until beef is evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain excess fat, if needed.
- Make the sauce—Stir in tomato paste, reserving cans, and cook for 5 minutes or so. Stir in chicken stock and red wine and continue cooking until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Fill tomato paste cans with water and add to pan. Add bay leaves and thyme and stir to combine. If sauce looks dry, add another can of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally and adding additional water as needed for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Taste as you go and add salt as needed. When sauce is done, remove bay leaves and thyme bundle.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta—After the sauce has simmered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil over high heat. Boil pasta until almost al dente, 1 to 2 minutes less than package directions.
- Finish and serve—Using a spaghetti spoon or tongs, transfer cooked pasta into sauté pan. Add 1/2 cup of pasta water along with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and stir to coat evenly. Bring to a simmer and cook until water has reduced and pasta is al dente. Divide pasta into individual bowls and sprinkle with extra Parmesan.
For the most flavorful pasta, add far more salt to the water than you think you should—at least 1 tablespoon per quart of water. Don’t worry about ingesting too much sodium, since most of it goes down the drain.
For the most flavorful pasta, add at least 1 tablespoon per quart of water. Don’t worry about ingesting too much sodium—most of it goes down the drain.
Mix it up—swap ground beef for Italian sausage, if that’s how you roll. Or use 1/2 and 1/2 beef and sausage for the best of both worlds.