I have always been a sucker for spaghetti with meat sauce and this delicious bolognese recipe is what I like to imagine Joe Pesci’s mom was serving up in Goodfellows. It takes all day to make, which guarantees its velvety texture, but it’s mostly hands off so you can catch up on a few of your favorite shows while it’s simmering.
Simple Ingredients and Lots of Time
In all honesty, this is a really simple recipe. The most intense part of making the sauce is the mincing. Once you prep the carrots, celery and onions, it’s mostly just a process of adding things to the pot and letting them simmer down.
The key is not to rush the process. Keep your heat low enough to let the milk and wine cook off slowly. I usually set a timer and try not to finish off the leftover wine before adding the tomatoes. The best part is after you do add the tomatoes and inevitably kill that bottle of wine, it’s perfectly acceptable to take a nap, which is why this is one of my favorite Sunday dinner recipes ever!
A Freezer-friendly recipe
You’ll notice this recipe serves eight. I always make this much sauce, even if it’s just for two people. It freezes wonderfully. You literally can’t tell the reheated version from the fresh. Just make sure you add the butter like in the original recipe. Because duh, it’s butter and it makes everything better. Buon Appetito!
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons onion, minced
4 tablespoons carrot, minced
4 tablespoons celery, minced
1 ½ pound meatloaf mix, or ½ pound each ground chuck, ground veal, and ground pork
2 cups whole milk
2 cups dry white wine*
2 cans diced tomatoes (28 oz. each)
2 pounds fresh spaghetti (or dried)
Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
Heat 6 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until softened but not browned, about 6-8 minutes.
Add ground meat and 1 teaspoon salt; crumble meat into tiny pieces with the edge of a wooden spoon. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 6 minutes.
Add milk and bring to a simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 20-30 minutes. Add wine and bring to a simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 20-30 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with an occasional bubble or two at surface, until liquid has evaporated, about 4 hours.
Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste. Keep sauce warm. (The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days or frozen for several months. Warm over low heat before serving.)
During the last 30 minutes of the simmering, bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain pasta, leaving some water dripping from noodles.
Toss the noodles with the sauce and remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Distribute among individual bowls and serve immediately, passing Parmesan cheese separately.
*Always cook with a wine you would drink on its own. Not only does it give you a better flavor profile, it also gives you an excuse to drink while you cook. I mean you don’t want that bottle to turn, right!?!