I met my partner the classic way that any millennial meets their partner these days, browsing Hinge. We struck up a lengthy chat on the dating app, had a few facetimes and then met up. He offered to cook me a classic Italian meal (knowing that I’m also Italian and attempting to impress me, obviously), so I said yes, and we stamped a date and a time. I was a bit nervous but not as nervous as the guy who raved about his classic Bolognese sauce. Throwing on some jeans and mascara I set out to his house that was perfectly close to the beach.
Once I arrived, we settled in with some wine and he led me to his mecca; the kitchen. There, he had laid out the classic, fresh ingredients that provided the confirmation that this man was a real Italiano. First off, he had his very own mini garden where he plucked his onion, carrots, and celery. Secondly, he had a cousin who worked at a local butcher shop, providing him with the best cut of ground beef. And last but not least, his auntie made her own white wine line for their family from her vineyard back in Naples, Italy. I could have hopped his bones right then and there but I behaved and calmed my raging Italian stallion so he could continue his tour. He had everything measured out and put to the side so we could make the Bolognese sauce together, which we did with sly touches in between, coy glances and exaggerated bending. After a full stomach and a long conversation about our Italian heritage, I just knew that this dude and I would be a swell match. And here we are, a year strong and still cooking for one another. So, there you have it folks! From my partner’s kitchen, to mine, and now to yours, whip it up with love and share. Mangiare!
Below is the recipe for the classic Bolognese sauce:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ⅔ cup chopped celery
- ⅔ cup chopped carrot
- ¾ pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
- Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
- 1 cup whole milk
- Whole nutmeg
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
- 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds pasta
- Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table
- Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.
- Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
- Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating — about 1/8 teaspoon — of nutmeg, and stir.
- Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
- Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.