The thing I was most excited about when my parents got me Martha Stewart’s Cooking School for Christmas was being able to learn how to make things I’d never done before. There’s a lot of things my husband eats that I don’t and I wanted to be able to not only learn how to make them for him but learn how to make them correctly. Whenever we eat out at Italian restaurants my husband gets Pasta Bolognese and I’m ashamed to say I’d never even tried it! When I was trying to decide what we would cook together this weekend, I stumbled across this in the book and decided it would be perfect for a cold Saturday night in. This recipe is really easy, the hardest part is letting it simmer for 3-4 hours because it smells SO good and you can’t wait to eat it! Another big plus is that this makes over 8 cups of sauce so we’ve been enjoying leftovers all week long. We served ours with handmade Pappardelle pasta (get that recipe and tutorial HERE) but this can be served with any kind of pasta (try making your own gnocchi!) or even used in lasagna!
Start off by cooking the soffritto: Heat 2 tbsp unsalted butter and 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a large dutch oven (we have this one) over medium high heat until the butter starts to sizzle, then reduce the heat to medium. Add 3 ounces of pancetta that’s been cut into small pieces (1) and cook for about 2 1/2 minutes until the fat has been rendered. Add 2/3 cup chopped yellow onion, 2/3 cup chopped celery and 2/3 cup chopped carrot (2) and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown around the edges (3, about 10 minutes. Now brown the meat: Add 1 lb ground veal and 1 lb ground pork (4) (you can substitute ground beef for one or both) and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly and breaking up meat with the back of a wooden spoon until it is no longer pink (8-10 minutes). Once the meat is completely browned, carefully pour off any excess fat and stir in 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp tomato paste (5). Mix in well with the meat and cook for one minute to intensify the sweetness. Next deglaze the pot: Pour in 1 cup dry white wine and stir to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Cook until the liquid has evaporated (6) about 6 minutes.
Add 1 cup whole milk (1) and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add in 5 sprigs of fresh thyme that’s been tied into a bundle with kitchen twine and then pour in 6 cups chicken stock (make your own!) (2). Puree a 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes with their juices in a blender and add it to the pot (3). Add a dried bay leaf, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (4). Bring the whole thing to a boil, then reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook, partially covered for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. If at any time the sauce appears too dry, add up to 1 cup more chicken stock as necessary. The finished sauce should have the consistency of loose chili… ours took 4 hours to get to this stage. Stir in 1/4 cup whole milk (5) and season to taste with salt and pepper (6).
As I mentioned previously, we served our sauce with handmade pappardelle pasta but you can use any pasta (again, try making your own gnocchi) or bake it right into lasagna. You could also try it on Eggplant “Pasta” or swap out the marinara sauce for this and use it in the Eggplant Rollatini. If you just want to make this to have some on hand, let it cool at room temperature then transfer to airtight containers. It can be refrigerated up to 3 days and frozen for up to 3 months.