Supercharged Bolognese Sauce
This recipe is a culmination of the official Bolognese sauce from the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, British chef Heston Blumenthal’s recipe from his book, “In Search of Perfection,” and my understanding of umami and what flavors enhance meatiness. You will notice some unorthodox ingredients such as anchovies, ketchup, porcini powder, soy sauce, and sherry vinegar. But these elements greatly enhance the “mouth-feel” of eat bite and enhance the meatiness of the dish.
- 1 5-oz. piece pancetta finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup warm milk
- 1 lb ground beef chuck
- 1 rib celery (trimmed and minced)
- 1 small yellow onion (peeled and minced)
- 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste or finely chopped anchovies
- 1 teaspoon of powdered porcini
- 1 whole star anise
- 1/2 medium carrot (peeled - trimmed and minced)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄4 tsp. Tabasco
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 cups homemade (salt-free) beef (veal or chicken) broth
- 2 cups of tomato sauce
- 2 sage leaves
- 2 tbsp. Sriracha Sauce
- 2 tsp Mushroom XO Sauce
- 2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
- 2-inche Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
- 3 chicken livers (finely chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (smashed with back of your knife - not minced)
- 6 sprigs thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ lb ground veal (optional; if you’re anti-veal substitute with beef)
- ½ lb. ground pork
Using kitchen twine, tie together thyme, sage, and bay leaf. Set herb bundle aside. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta or bacon and render fat and flavor for 5 minutes. Then add ground beef, pork, and veal, season with salt and pepper; cook until deeply browned, 12–15 minutes. You want to break up meat with the back of a wooden spoon to facilitate browning. You are looking to get almost crispy brown bits of meat because this is loaded with flavor.
Once all the meat is well caramelized, remove from the pot, discard any oil and add the remaining olive oil. Sauté the chicken livers, parmeggiano-reggiano rind,
onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and star anise for about 20 minutes or until the onions are translucent and almost starting to brown. Make sure to stir frequently with a wooden spoon.
Add the tomato paste and anchovy paste and stir into the soffrito (aromatics) until the tomato paste begins to brown. This will add depth of flavor that the canned tomatoes cannot provide.
Now it’s time to deglaze! Turn the heat up to high and add the wine to pot and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot, until it has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the porcini powder, ketchup, Worcestershire, Mushroom XO Sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, Tabasco herb bundle, homemade broth, and Franco’s tomato sauce.
Simmer about 10 minutes. Stir in meat and milk, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 2-3 hours. Make sure it’s barely bubbling and not on an active simmer. Otherwise it make reduce to much and the acid components will be too strong. (Add a little water, if needed.) Discard herb bundle and star anise; stir in vinegar.
Toss with fresh tagliatelle or the pasta of your choice. Serve with grated parmigiano-reggiano.
You should make this one or 2 days before because the flavor actually improves when it sits in the fridge. That’ll save you headaches on the day you cook, since this takes about 4-5 hours to complete.