While much of the US is covered in snow and we're hunkered down trying to stay warm, I immediately think of this wonderful winter dish that my family loves. This recipe will warm your bones and fill your stomach. Even if you find yourself in a sunny, warm climate, like Los Angeles, this dish will fill your home with the awesome aromas of a wintertime meal.
Bolognese Meat Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrots (I use organic veggies)
3/4 pound ground beef (I use grass-fed, 90/10 lean)
1 cup whole milk (again, I use organic)
Whole nutmeg (Why whole nutmeg vs. grated? Because it stays fresher while you use it.)
1 cup dry white wine (use wine that you would drink) (if I don't have white wine, I use organic apple juice)
6 plum tomatoes, chopped and smashed (keep seeds, juice, and skin - note: you can use 1 1/2 cups of canned plum tomatoes, cut up with their juice)
Good parmesan cheese, like parmigiano-reggiano, at the table
1. Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in a pot and turn on heat to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it becomes translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrots. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.
2. Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and some pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well, and cook until the beef has lost its red color.
3. Add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it's bubbled away completely. Grate about 1/8 of a teaspoon of nutmeg and stir.
4. Add the wine and let it simmer until it's evaporated. Then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all of the ingredients. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn down the heat so that the sauce cooks at a very slow simmer, with just an occasional bubble breaking through the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you're likely to see that it starts to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, continue the cooking, adding 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, though, no water should be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and add salt if necessary.
5. Toss the sauce with pasta and serve with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.
Adapted from the wonderful Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan