Authentic Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

First: could food get any sexier than this? Second: Bolognese is not what you think! Americans have screwed this one up. The typical Americanized Bolognese is smothered in tomato sauce. This is a big no, no, no in Italy!

This dish originated in Bologna as a meat stew mixed throughout a generous helping of pasta. Emphasizing slow-cooked veal, pork, and beef – and intensified by the rich flavors of wine, mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion), and a dash of nutmeg – there is almost no other dish that is so fantastic.

With just tomato paste for acid, this dish best plays off its simplest elements: high quality al dente tagliatelle and a generous handful of parmigiano-reggiano.

One of the best dishes I’ve ever put in my mouth, save this recipe for the most special occasions. You might shed a tear over this one. Simply put, è bellissimo.

Serves: 4 people (with leftover sauce)

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Total time: 2 hours

The Ingredients

1 pound best-quality tagliatelle, spinach or regular (bronze-extruded durum semolina is best)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 cup carrots, finely chopped

1 cup celery, finely chopped

1 can (6 ounce) tomato paste

5 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

¾ pound ground pork

¾ pound ground veal

¾ ground beef

1 cup dry white wine

1 ¼ cups whole milk

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Salt

Parmigiano-Reggiano, to garnish

The Steps

In a large pot over medium heat, add pork, veal, and beef and cook until brown, consistently stirring and breaking up meat into fine granules. No pieces of meat should be bigger than a pencil eraser! Add olive oil and butter. Add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté until just heated, about 4-5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium/low, and add tomato paste. Stir. Add wine, and stir again. Let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring periodically, until wine evaporates. Add 1 cup milk. Stir, and reduce heat to low. Let cook for about 1 hour, occasionally stirring. Add additional ¼ cup of milk if the sauce seems to dry out. Let simmer for additional time for a more intensely flavored sauce (or if you have time to kill!). Add salt to taste.

Boil tagliatelle to al dente in salted water. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water. Drain pasta. Add sauce until pasta is just coated in sauce. Add a dash of pasta water and stir again. Divide into shallow pasta bowls, and serve immediately with a generous handful of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Serve with a Chianti or Sangiovese for the absolute perfect dinner.

The Steps with Pictures

In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. Sauté until translucent. Add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté until just heated, about 4-5 minutes. Add pork, veal, and beef and cook until brown, consistently stirring and breaking up meat into fine granules. No pieces of meat should be bigger than a pencil eraser!

Reduce heat to medium/low, and add tomato paste. Stir. Add wine, and stir again. Let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring periodically, until wine evaporates. Add 1 cup milk. Stir, and reduce heat to low. Let cook for about 1 hour, occasionally stirring. Add additional ¼ cup of milk if the sauce seems to dry out. Let simmer for additional time for a more intense sauce (or if you have time to kill!). Add salt to taste.

Boil tagliatelle to al dente in salted water. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water. Drain pasta. Add sauce until pasta is just coated in sauce. Add a dash of pasta water and stir again. Divide into shallow pasta bowls, and serve immediately with a generous handful of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Serve with a Chianti or Sangiovese for the absolute perfect dinner.

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