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Bolognese sauce is my favorite lazy day recipe, it requires minimal preparation even though it spends hours on the stove. As the tomatoes and meat slowly simmer the flavors meld and intensify creating a “gravy” any Italian grandmother would approve of.
Bolognese Brings me Back to my Childhood.
Growing up in the DC area in an Italian family Sunday dinner was an all day affair. We would show up to my grandparents house and the sweet perfume of garlic would smack you in the face like a familiar friend. My grandfather would wake up early Sunday to throw veal, beef and pork shanks into a giant pot with an obscene amount of olive oil to sauté along with carrots, onions and celery. By the time we arrived the sauce already had a 4-5 hour head start with hours of simmering still to go.
This recipe is a piece of cake compared to the Ragu my grandfather would make but it still has the same familiar flavors that I grew up with. One day I will put together a recipe for my grandfather’s Gravy but for now this recipe will have to tide you over.
A Brief history Of Bolognese Sauce
Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna Italy in the early 18th century. The sauce was originally known as ragu alla Bolognese. Bolognese Ragu has many similarities to its European French counterpart Ragout, a stew of veggies and meats reduced down. The rich tomato based meat sauce most commonly contains the trinity (carrots, onions and celery) along with a combination of beef and pork. Tomatoes and white wine round out the sauce and balance the richness. Some versions of this classic Italian sauce are finished with milk and Parmesan cheese.
What to serve Bolognese sauce with.
Classically Bolognese is served over a broad noodle like Tagliatelle, Parpadelle or Fettuccine. There is also a version of Lasagna Bolognese with layers of the meat sauce, ricotta and noodles. Since this is a low carb version I chose to use Palmini Noodles made from hearts of Palm. I also made a version using spaghetti squash.
Preparing with a Hearts of a Palm (Palmini Noodles)
To prepare the Hearts of Palm I remove them from the can and rinse thoroughly for a minute under cold water. Then I sauté in a pan along with salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil. I then scoop out a small amount of the bolognese sauce and incorporate it with the palmini noodles. After plating the hearts of Palm noodles I then ladle a big scoop of the Bolognese over the top then garnish with a Pecorino Romano cheese and parsley or scallions.
Preparing with Spaghetti Squash
To prepare with spaghetti squash split the squash in half and remove the seeds and any stringy stuff inside. Drizzle olive oil in the cavity then season with salt and pepper. Place the spaghetti squash flesh side down and bake at 400 degrees F. For about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know the spaghetti squash is done if you can press down on the top outer skin and it feels tender. Turn the squash back onto it’s skin and use a fork to fluff out the spaghetti strands in the squash. Top with a big ladle of Bolognese sauce, Pecorino Romano and parsley.
San Marzano Tomatoes
In my opinion there’s only one type of tomato to use for sauce and that’s the San Marzano Tomatoes. They are similar to Roma tomatoes but are thinner and more pointed in shape and contain less seeds. They have a sweeter less acidic taste making them perfect for sauces. San Marzano tomatoes are grown in a warm climate in soil rich in volcanic ash in the shadows of Mount Vesuvius. I buy the whole peeled tomatoes and squash them in my hands, breaking them up before adding to the pot. You could use a hand mill to mash the tomatoes but doing it by hand is traditional and it’s how I was taught as a kid.
Tips for Preparing Bolognese Sauce.
Take your time, there’s no rush on this sauce. It only gets better with time. If the sauce seems to watery after 3 hours then just keep simmering. The Bolognese will tell you when it’s done. If you think it’s too thick you can just stir in a little extra beef broth l.
Don’t let the sauce come to a boil. You can simmer this sauce but never bring the sauce to a rolling boil or you run the risk of burning the sauce giving it a bitter taste. If the sauce is getting too hot simply turn off the heat and put a lid on it. Walk away for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and begin stirring over low heat. You can repeat this process over and over.
- in a large pot saute diced carrots, onions and celery on medium low heat with olive oil until veggies have softened and lightly caramelized. About 15 minutes
- add garlic, black pepper, italian seasoning and salt. Add in ground beef and sausage, break up into small pieces and saute until fully cooked. About 15 minutes.
- Next, add tomato paste to the mixture. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. pour white wine into the tomato paste can and stir to get any leftover tomato paste out and pour into the pot. Repeat 2x with beef broth for a total of 18 oz of wine and beef broth.
- pour san marzano tomatoes into a bowl and crush by hand then add to the pot.
- Continue to simmer the sauce over low heat stirring occationally making sure that the sauce never boils. If the sauce starts to bubble simply remove from the heat and place the lid on top and wait 30 minutes. Then remove lid and place back on the burner over low heat and continue to stir.
- After about 3 hours the sauce wil have a rich bright color and a thickness smalar to a chili. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Serve over Hearts of Palm Pasta or Spaghetti Squash.
More Keto Comfort Food Classics
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- Beef Bourguignon
- Keto Italian Meatloaf
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