There are times I turn to kitchen conveniences like the slow cooker or quick and easy dishes with limited ingredients. But, when time allows and I feel a need to slow down, I like a dish that needs tending. A dish that can’t be rushed and needs some attention. A dish like the Bolognese I made on Sunday.
I’ve long been a fan of dicing vegetables for soups and sauces. I like how vegetables on a cutting board clear my mind of worries, to do lists, and other mental clutter. I like how the knife feels against the cutting board as I slice through onions, carrots and garlic. I like that I’m in the moment with no other thoughts than what’s just in front of me.
So on Sunday I found myself in the perfect Sunday zen spot. The afternoon lay ahead with nothing more to do than tend to my pot of Bolognese. And once the onions, garlic, and carrots started sizzling away there wasn’t much left to do than add some smoky bacon, ground beef, red wine, and chicken stock. From there all it required was the occasional stir and check on the heat to ensure it maintained a quiet simmer.
For a couple hours, the Bolognese was a gentle bubbling reminder to stay in and be cozy. As it slowly reduced and thickened, marrying all the flavors into one, life slowed down. There was time to read a few chapters of a book and flip through a neglected magazine. Between sauce stirrings, Feynman and I soaked up some early afternoon sun in the backyard.
And even after I put away the dishes and tucked the extra Bolognese in the freezer the mood still hung in the air. I held on to it for the rest of the day.
This recipe is adapted from one I found on Bon Appetit. It’s best cooked on the stove top low and slow so it reduces and all the flavors get a chance to blend together. Bacon is not found in most traditional Bolognese sauces, but it adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the sauce. The sauce is rich and little goes a long way, so this recipe makes enough for 6-8 people with some bread, and maybe a salad, on the side.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook them for about 5-10 minutes, or until they soften. Add the ground pork and bacon. Break the pork up as you stir until it’s browned.
Add the wine and chicken stock stirring to combine. Bring the pot to a strong simmer and then reduce the heat so that only a few bubbles break the surface at a time. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about an hour an a half. Season the sauce with 1 teaspoon of salt.
Once the sauce has simmered add the milk slowly in small batches. Bring the pot to a simmer again, and then reduce the heat like before to maintain a gentle simmer. Let the sauce cook another 45 minutes to an hour until it’s thickened.
Check the sauce for seasoning. If needed, add up to one teaspoon of salt. Add the chopped parsley and stir to combine.
Serve with your favorite long pasta and garnish with grated Parmesan.