Food and Food: Home Cookin'25 Nov 2009 08:31 am

I don’t know why, but for many years I shied away from bolognese on restaurant menus. Perhaps I thought the sauce was plain and unsophisticated: I mean, meat sauce when you can have a fancier, harder-to-make cream sauce? Perhaps I was reliving bad memories of overdosing on bolognese in Belgium many years ago.

However, lately it has become a favourite pasta sauce. Although my recipe is far from authentic (many believe “true” bolognese should use white wine, not red, and uses very little tomato), it it still very good, and fairly easy to cook up.

lamb bolognese

lamb bolognese

My soffritto of carrots, celery, onion and pancetta, frying in a helping of butter and olive oil.

lamb bolognese

Chubs of meat are not the most attractive packaging. Plus they have a tendency to burst open into a wormy snake of meat when you cut into them.

lamb bolognese
My recipe only requires a cup of red wine, leaving a lot left in the bottle. I freeze a cup for use later, and drink some while cooking or use it in other cooking in the days after.

lamb bolognese
At $3.49 a can, these tomatoes were not cheap, but I tried them to see if there was a discernible difference. I think it is worth it to get tomatoes low in sodium and sugar, so that I can control the end flavours a bit better. Here, I am using kitchen scissors to cut the whole tomatoes into smaller bits.

lamb bolognese
I also spent a bit more on a different brand of tomato sauce. The ingredient list is a long one, as you can see. The paste and tomatoes had the added benefit of not tasting metallic.

lamb bolognese

Mike’s bowl on left, mine on right. I did go back for seconds, though. I serve a healthy serving of sauce with a chunky, chewy pasta such as orecchiette that helps scoop up the meaty sauce, and top it with cheese and parsley.

lamb bolognese

Lamb and Veal Bolognese

This will make several cups of sauce, which is good to freeze and serve with fresh pasta later, or just eat on its own. It’s a pretty forgiving recipe, so feel free to adjust amounts if need be.

  • 0.635kg (1.5 lbs) meat. I used a mix of veal and lamb, but you could use beef and veal or pork.
  • 1/2 cup pancetta, cubed. I just buy a chunk from the deli and cube it at home
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup red wine you like (don’t cheap out, although it may be tempting)
  • 28 oz. can tomatoes, whole and cut up or diced
  • can of tomato paste
  • cayenne powder, chili flakes to taste
  • herbs,  dried or fresh
  • salt and pepper

Set large pot on medium high heat, allow to warm up. Add diced pancetta, cook while stirring until it browns. Add splash of olive oil and butter, throwing in diced carrots, celery and onion. Allow this soffritto to soften and brown, about 10 minutes.

Add your meat, let brown. I normally add my spices at this point, cayenne or chili, dried thyme, oregano or basil. Crank the heat to high, and add the wine while scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Turn heat down to medium, allow to cook down for about 10 minutes, and add the tomato paste and entire can of tomatoes and juices. Allow to come to a boil, and simmer for as long as you can stand it, at least 45 minutes, but longer if possible.

lamb bolognese

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