This is the real deal, no-nonsense bolognese. Hearty, meaty, and rich with tomato flavor, it’s perfectly represents everything bolognese sauce should be.
1 large or 2 small carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 lbs. ground beef (I use the organic 15% fat ground beef from Whole Foods – also know as the “holy grail of hamburger” in my house, but use what you like. You could even use part beef, part pork, etc)
1 cup milk (I use soy due to my son’s dairy allergy; it doesn’t alter the taste at all)
6 oz tomato paste (1 small can)
4 14oz cans of chopped tomatoes
2 14oz cans of tomato sauce
4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
Now get to work!
Start by dicing up your veggies. I do a rough dice as I don’t mind seeing a few chunks of carrots in my sauce. And because I get frustrated by recipes that call for “small” or “medium” vegetables, I basically fill up a 2 cup glass measuring cup, filling 1/2 with diced carrots, 1/4 of diced celery and then piling up the diced onions on top. Sometimes it overflows, sometimes not – but essentially you’re aiming for about 2 cups of vegetables in roughly those ratios.
Now its time to cook things up before throwing them in the crock pot. Start by heating up a thin layer of olive oil to a large pan, then dump in the veggies. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes.
Once the veggies are nice and soft (but before they start to brown), throw in your meat of choice and use those arms to break it up and incorporate the veggies.
Once the meat is broken up and combined with the veggies, and has lost its pink color, add the milk and simmer until the liquid has all but evaporated.
While you’re waiting for the milk to absorb (it usually takes 10-15 minutes for me), start opening all those can and drag your crock pot from its awkward storage space. Then transfer mixture into the crock pot and start adding the tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes.
Before you add the tomato paste, you’ll want to cook it (in the same pan – less cleaning, the better!) for a few minutes to remove any bitterness. Trust me on this – I skipped this step before thinking it was unnecessary, and it really did alter the flavor of the sauce.
Add the tomato paste to the crock pot, along with the salt and nutmeg. Set the temp and time on your crock pot and you’re done!
Once the bolognese is done and slightly cooled, I portion out into storage containers to finish cooling a bit more on the counter. I generally get 6 portions of 4-5 ladles, and each portion easily feeds our family of four.