The basis for the Ragu is a soffritto (or mirepoix to the rest of the world), a well-known mix of diced onion, carrot and celery. This lovely combination of flavors, along with garlic, tomatoes, Italian sausage (or ground beef), a touch of wine and time make a wonderfully rich and complex sauce that is near the top of our list of comfort foods.
¾ c. each of Diced Onion, Diced Carrot and Diced Celery
2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
¼ cup Dry White Wine
1 pound of Ground, Italian Sausage (or Ground Beef, or Ground Moose)
¼ c. Red Wine
2 pounds of Roma Tomatoes, diced & seeded OR 2-15 oz cans of Diced Tomatoes with all of the juice (we often do a combination to use up aging tomatoes)
1 T. chopped Fresh Oregano
1 sprig Fresh Thyme
2 T. chopped Fresh Basil
2 T, chopped Fresh Parsley
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep pan, like a Dutch oven. Add the soffritto, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook for another couple of minutes until most of the wine has evaporated.
Push the veggies to one side, or, if you prefer, remove them from the pan to a prep bowl for a few minutes while you brown the sausage (or your choice of meat).
Italian sausage is generally well-seasoned and has an adequate amount of fat, but if you’re using a different meat, you may need to add more olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe even some onion powder and/or garlic powder to flavor the meat while it cooks. It’s important to layer your flavors as you add each new item if you want your finished product to have depth.
Once the meat is browned (you needn’t cook it all the way through – it’s going to be cooking for a VERY long time) combine it with the veggies and deglaze the pan again, this time with the red wine, and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes until most of the wine has evaporated.
Add the tomatoes, oregano and thyme sprig, stir to combine and cover tightly. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours if desired, stirring occasionally and adding a bit of water only if the sauce becomes too thick or begins to stick. Make sure your heat is not too high! Low and slow is definitely the way to go here.
Remove the thyme sprig and stir in the fresh basil just before serving. You’ve got plenty of time while the sauce was cooking. This is a perfect opportunity to serve this fabulous sauce with the fresh pasta of your choice! You can either toss the pasta with the sauce (often considered more traditional) or serve the sauce over the pasta, whichever you prefer. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
There are some Italian families that add cream to give a glossy texture to their Bolognese. If you wish to add cream, you would add it about an hour before the sauce is ready to serve.
For a vegetarian version, substitute eggplant or mushrooms for the meat.