Traditionally Bolognese Sauce is made with a mixture of beef, veal and pork but I like to shake things up a bit by using Italian sausage only. This gives the sauce a very distinctive flavor and changes the HO HUM to WOW.
Makes 3 Quarts
2 Large Spanish Onions
6 Large Carrots
6 Celery Stalks
¼ Cup Garlic Cloves
½ Cup XVOO
½ Cup Unsalted Butter
3½ Pounds Mild Italian Sausage, Removed From Casings and Crumbled
2 Cups Good Quality Red Wine
½ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ Cup Italian Tomato Paste
1 28-Ounce San Marzano Tomato Puree
2 Teaspoons Coarse Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
3 Whole Bay Leaves
Chicken Stock (For thinning sauce if too thick)
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, finely chop the onion, carrots, celery stalks and garlic. (You will have to do this in batches.)
In a large Dutch oven, heat the XVOO and the butter over medium heat until the butter stops sizzling. Add the sausage and cook until the meat starts to turn brown, breaking up the meat as it cooks, but remember to leave some nice size chunks. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour out half of the drippings and return the pan to the heat. Add the chopped vegetables and sauté until the vegetables give off some of their juices, stirring often for about 10 minutes. Add the drained sausage back to the pan and add the wine and vinegar; cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and tomato puree and stir to combine with the meat and vegetables. Add the salt, pepper, bay leaves and optional crushed red pepper flakes and bring the whole thing to a bubbling boil. Turn the heat down and briskly simmer with the pan slightly covered with a lid. Stir often and simmer for 3 hours.
As the sauce cooks it will become a rich reddish-brown in color. You want it to be rich and thick but not dry. If the sauce becomes too dry add a cup of chicken stock at a time during the cooking.
I like to make this sauce a day or two in advance because the longer it sits the better it is. When reheating, slowly bring it back to a simmer and cook for another hour, stirring often and adding chicken stock if you think it’s too thick. Remove the bay leaves before serving;