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BOLOGNESE sauce recipe? like the ones at La Scala

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I love the spaghetti bolognese at La Scala in Los Angeles. It's the meat sauce with I'm guessing some sort of pink sauce..maybe the milk or cream? and someone thought the carrots may be grated.. anyways, I want to know your best recipe for bolognese and if anyone knows what I'm talking about with the La Scala one your helpis greatly appreciated! tia

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  1. The one in Joy of Cooking (new edition) has a bit of tomato paste, and some milk - so the combination could be pink. There is a carrot, celery and onion, but they probably don't contribute a lot color. But I think most of the flavor comes from the meat and stock.


      1. re: Karl S

        The recipe in Joy is similar to the in this thread, though the order of addition of the tomato paste, wine, and milk is different. The milk is added toward the end, small amounts at a time.

        I wonder if curdling of the milk is ever a problem.


        1. re: paulj

          Not for me. I cobbled my method together from Marcella Hazan and Lynne Rosetto Kaspar, and I very much prefer my order of reductions.

      2. The best Bolognese I've had in the US was in a restaurant in Southampton (gone now) and the chef used chopped filet mignon for the meat. It seemed to make a big difference.

        1. I have adapted this from Marcella Hazan's Recipe.

          1/2 lb each of ground pork, veal (or turkey), sirloin/chuck

          1 large can imported from Italy San Maranzo tomatoes--I always use DOP--Sometimes I use the wonderful canned cherry tomatoes from my Italian grocery, but I don't think they are readily available

          2 Tbls diced carrots

          2 Tbls diced celery

          1 small onion, diced

          1 minced large clove of garlic (Marcella would not approve)

          olive oil

          Salt and Pepper to taste.

          1 cup of dry white wine

          1/2 cup of milk

          nutmeg--fresh grated

          fresh bay leaf (optional)

          Put olive oil in sauce pot and throw in the celery and carrots, then turn heat to medium.

          Cook until the vegetables begin to soften ( I think you can start to smell them) then add the onions and garlic and cook a few minutes It is desirable that the vegetables to not colour

          Add the meats and break up with your spoon. Cook until the meat loses its raw colour. I like to season the meat at the beginning.

          Add the wine and turn the heat up, cook until wine evaporated

          Turn heat down and add the milk and a few grates of nutmeg.

          Cook until milk evaporated.

          Add tomatoes and break them up with your knife.

          Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer.

          Place lid on askew and simmer 3-4 hours stirring occasionaly.

          Season to taste.

          Degrease and enjoy.

          I think this thick delicious sauce is best with fusili or other pasta shapes that will catch the sauce.

          1 Reply
          1. re: faijay

            I've got to put garlic, too and also freshly chopped basil. I don't care if this differs from the "classic" recipe -- I just think it makes it taste all the better.

          2. i've got la scalas recipe in some resto book from the 80's-maybe la times cookbook? lemme dig it out and i'll post.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dano

              that would be amazing!! thanks

            2. my very favorite pasta dish! I have my own version and have posted it here, before, under I don't know where as then you didn't have to be registered. How do I go find old posts?
              My recipe looks just like Faijays pretty much.
              If you're ever inclined to visit Isla Mujeres Island, try Rolandi's restaurant for theirs. It's perfect!

              1. The one in the Dean and Deluca cookbook is so good. It includes ground veal,pork and beef, ground chicken livers, garlic,onions, grated carrots, whit wine and tomato sauce . The best. The grated carrots and finely chopped chicken livers give the sauce a wonderful flavor and richness.

                1. The one I use is based on an amalgamation of Lydia's and Michael Chiarello's recipes. Apologies for my writing, just doing this from the top of my head.

                  3 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
                  1 onion chopped
                  2 celery stalks chopped
                  2 carrots peeled and chopped
                  1 lb ground veal
                  1 lb ground beef
                  2 veal bones
                  1 cup whole milk
                  1 cup white wine
                  3 TBS tomato paste
                  1 can (28 fl. oz.) Muir Glen whole plum tomatoes
                  fresh stems of parsley, thyme, basil tied with twine
                  kosher salt
                  fresh ground black pepper

                  In a dutch oven, add extra virgin olive oil over med-high heat. When heated add the onion, carrots and celery and saute in the oil. When they have cooked through, clear an area in the middle and break up the veal and beef into it. Add the veal bones.

                  the bones impart the flavor of the marrow into the sauce, no small thing.

                  As the meat cooks it will release liquid. You want to continue cooking it until the liquid has completely evaporated. At that point add the milk to the meat. When the milk has evaporated, add the wine and let that evaporate as well.

                  Evaporating the liquid from the meat allows the meat to soak up the milk. Evaporating the milk leaves only the milk solids remaining and allows the wine to be absorbed in turn by the meat. So I find it critical to allow evaporation at each step.

                  Once the wine is evaporated add the tomato paste and stir into the contents of the oven letting it cook for a few minutes. Then add the tomatoes by breaking them up by hand into the oven. Add the herbs, salt and pepper into the sauce. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and allow to cook for 2-3 hours adding water if the contents begin to dry out. Remove the veal bones and herbs before serving.

                  Sometimes I'll add porcini mushrooms by rehydrating for 20 min in 1 cup hot water, draining them and preserving the liquid adding the mushrooms with the mirapoix and the liquid with the tomatoes.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: kevine

                    What size is the can of tomatoes?

                    What is the consensus? Is it better to add the wine first, or the milk?

                    1. re: Fleur

                      There is no 100% consensus. The more traditional order, IIRC, is wine-milk-stock/tomato, but to my taste (and others, too) reversing the milk and wine reductions seems to taste and work better. I believe the classic method arises because normally one reduces wine before adding stock in sauce-making, to burn off some of the alcohol (which is harder to do if the wine is diluting another liquid). But not that much alcohol is burned off in a quick reduction (studies have shown). On the other hand, perhaps adding milk to an acidic base (like wine-soaked meat) can be risky depending on the heat level and the quality of the milk and the acidity of the wine, so that may explain why I've found it better to reduce the milk and emulsify its solids into the sauce base before the wine and the rest.

                      You can try both ways and see which you prefer.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Marcella says milk first, then wine. She says the milk "protects" the meat from the wine. I'm not sure what she means by this though.

                      2. re: Fleur

                        I corrected my recipe, should be 1 can not 2. The size of the can I use is 28 fl. oz.
                        And like Karl S I find adding the milk first is better.

                      3. re: kevine

                        I corrected my recipe above to use 1 can of Muir Glen tomatoes, was confusing this with another recipe. As Karl S says below, this is a meat sauce, not a tomato sauce as the tomatoes add to the flavor and do not comprise the base.
                        My bad. Thanks for putting the point on this, Karl. ;-)

                      4. thanks guys!one more question... do you think i should put all my veges in a food processor to chop it since the one I had at La Scala seemed like there was no trace of vege's because it was grated? or so you think cooking it for a long time will automatically dissolve it? ALSO..I noticed most of the bolognese sauce looks very red but the one I had was more pinky looking.. do you think they use cream instead of milk?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: yum

                          Do not use the food processor. The diced veggies need enough integrity to gradually release their layers of flavors, and the evenness of a hand dice will not be replicated at all in the food processor in that regard.

                          A ragu bolognese is not a tomato sauce. It is a meat sauce to which, in the final reduction, a bit of fruity acidic tomato is added in the final reduction. That gives it a blush, the color of which will depend on the ripeness of the tomato pulp (not skin), and which can be rendered rosy (or pink, if you prefer) by the dairy (and sometimes a finishing liaison of cream to bring everything together).

                          1. re: yum

                            I agree with Karl--Bolognese sauce should have texture and deep flavour. I think not turning it smooth is important. I've always put the wine in before the milk, but reading this I'll try it the other way the next time I make a pot of sauce.

                          2. We once spent 4 days in Bologna. We had at least one serving of Lasagne Bolognese or tagliatelli Bolognese at each of 7 meals. Bothe use Ragu Bolognese. My recipe comes from the cook at Da Cesare in Bologna (the one I liked the best.) I published it in my cooking newsletter The Curmudgeon's Home Companion in June 1994. (curmudgeon.com)

                            Ragu Bolognese
                            1/3 cup olive oil
                            1/2 large onion, finely chopped
                            1/2 rib cellery. finely chopped
                            1 medium carrot, finely chopped or grated
                            1/4 pound pancetta (Italian bacon), finely chopped
                            1 pound skirt steak, ground
                            1/2 cup dry white wine
                            1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree (I use Pomi in a carton)
                            1/2 cup water
                            salt and pepper to taste
                            pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
                            1/4 cup heavy cream

                            1. Cook the vegetables in the olive oil until soft. Add the pancetta and the beef. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, but keep heat low.
                            2. Add the white wine, tomato puree and water. Stir in the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
                            3. Simmer for 2 hours, uncovered. Turn the heat off and add the cream. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. If the sauce is not silky on the tongue, add a lump of butter or a little more cream.

                            There is no consensus in Bologna on how to make it. Milk is not required. And you lighly sauce the pasta, you don't drown it. Finally, Michael Chiarello is not from a Bolognese family. When a Bolognese wants to go out for ethnic food they usually go for pizza.

                            1. I was in Washington DC over the weekend and went to a seemingly lovely restaurant in the Pentegon Mall. It looked nice enough and also looked like it might have really good food. It was real pretty inside and the appointments were nice too. I ordered all my favoritie things from Tuscany. Pizza Margharita, Capreze Salad and Spaghetti Bolognese. To my undelight, I've had better capreze salad a local dumpy place in Italy and it was $8.95 for 3 slices of tomato/mozzarella with a little basil. I had to ask for balsamic vinegar. The pizza was bland and fat, not even pretty and the bolognese was the worst ever, period. I tasted something in that sauce that wasn't supposed to be there. It wasn't a typical bolognese sauce, it was merely meat and tomato sauce. no cream/milk, no carrot but maybe a dry white vermouth flavor which really doesn't work. I very proudly said nothing and with my friend, left with it in tow. Heated it up later, still no good and it got tossed. Dang, what a shame and waste of money.

                              1. Hands down, the Mario Batali recipe. I'm sure it is the milk that makes the difference.
                                Here's the link to Gourmet:

                                BOLOGNESE SAUCE

                                This recipe is an accompaniment for Pappardelle Bolognese.
                                Active time: 45 min Start to finish: 2 1/4 hr

                                2 medium onions, finely chopped
                                4 celery ribs, finely chopped
                                2 medium carrots, finely chopped
                                5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
                                1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
                                1/4 lb pancetta or slab bacon, ground by butcher or thinly sliced and pulsed in food processor until finely chopped
                                1 lb ground veal
                                1 lb ground pork (not lean)
                                1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
                                1 cup whole milk
                                1 cup dry white wine
                                1 cup water
                                1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
                                1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
                                1/2 teaspoon black pepper

                                Cook onions, celery, carrot, and garlic in oil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

                                Add pancetta, veal, and pork and cook over moderately high heat, stirring and breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.

                                Stir in tomato paste, milk, wine, water, and thyme and gently simmer, covered, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.

                                Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Frozen, it keeps for 1 month.

                                Makes about 8 cups.

                                1. I have to send a manager of a restaurant chain that is totally Italian, a group of recipes for spaghetti bolognese or pasta bolognese, whatever, anyway, a bolognese of sorts. My gripe was, the famous restaurant puts fennel in their bolognese sauce. I had 4 forkfuls of the stuff before pushing it away. Can anyone else agree that Pasta Bolognese does not and should not contain fennel or tarragon? It just isn't a taste that goes in there. Now I will say, that a famous chef in Santa Monica at a pricey wonderful Italian ristorante told me his secret to his most fabulous sauce, it's the smallest amount of anise seeds in there. The SMALLEST few little seeds. Commenting would be appreciated on this topic, thanks for answering.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    I don't see adding fennel to bolognese sauce, I think of this as something for seafood tomato sauces.

                                    I have added cream to bolognese sauce and enjoyed this, also sometimes a little tomato paste but not whole tomatoes, but admit it's not traditional.