Beef Ragu: My Favourite Bolognese Sauce

by Michael on February 16, 2011 · 12 comments

Comfort food. It usually evokes memories of a moment in our past when food brought us together and connected us. It’s usually a flavour or ingredient that elicits those feelings and that binds us to a time when things seemed simpler, were simpler. It’s the comfort in food that’s been an anchor in my life and allows me to remember and never forget. It’s able to reach inside us and pull out an emotion attached to it. I take comfort in that.

When we’re in the midst of winter and hectic days in which we’re pulled in so many different directions that we lose sight of ourselves, nothing slows us down and grounds us more than a bowl of pasta and time with our family. My wife and I will sit around the table with a glass of Merlot and a bowl of of pasta with our favourite bolognese and reconnect with each other and connect with the food in front of us. We can hear the tic of the clock slow down, the heart beat relaxes a bit and we exhale.
When I think of spaghetti bolognese I immediately think of sitting by the fire with the snow pounding the concrete outside. The wind whistles through the windows and I stay inside with the food, my family and the warmth that comes from both. It’s comforting. It’s classic. It’s simple, which may be best of all. The vision ignites us and carries us.

I love the anticipation that comes with this sauce. We’ve had it so many times that I can recite the aroma that comes off the pan by heart. I can pinpoint the exact mood it puts me in as the scent permeates the kitchen and main floor. This sauce is like my best friend, because it knows how to make me happy. The first spoonful to taste as it simmers away always sets up the rest of the evening. It’s like the first note of a song that you know by heart.

Bolognese is more than just a sauce, it’s also the base for a great lasagna. It’s many things to many people. For me, it’s the answer to the comfort we need and seek out. To my family, it’s the perfect Sunday meal and the best opportunity for us to act as one. It is my labour of love.

From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!
Beef Ragu
The Goods:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3 slices pancetta, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • small handful sage leaves, chopped
  • pinch of sugar
  • sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan (garnish)
  • chopped parsley (garnish)
  1. In a large heavy saucepan, cook the beef over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for about 5 minutes and until no longer pink. Remove the beef and set aside, drain fat from the pan.
  2. In the same pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, onion, garlic, carrots, celery and oregano, stirring often and until vegetables have softened, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add cream to the pot and simmer until it evaporates. Add in the tomatoes and crush with a potato masher. Return the beef to the pan and add in the wine, paste and sugar. Add in the bay leaf and chopped sage. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce and simmer for 30-45 minutes until it thickens. Discard the bay leaf and serve.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one } February 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm
Carolyn February 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm
All That's Left Are The Crumbs February 16, 2011 at 10:51 pm
Lynds February 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm
ThreeTastes February 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm
Michael Lewicki February 17, 2011 at 3:13 am
thespicegarden February 17, 2011 at 6:21 pm
ravienomnoms February 17, 2011 at 6:56 pm
Lizzy February 18, 2011 at 11:35 am February 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm

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