Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Oct 12, 2009 01:23 PM

Marcella's Bolgonese- Your variations? Heresy?

I know Marcella's recipe is a Tried and True Favorite on these boards...

I made it religiously the first couple of times - and then of course had to change it up. I (gasp!) add a bit of garlic, a little extra tomato (which I puree in my food mill because I prefer chunk-less tomatoes), about a tbsp squeeze of tomato paste from the tube, and I use cream instead of milk (I only have lowfat milk at home on hand). I have tried the variation with beef and pork and find it delicious...

Do you keep it exactly the same or have you adjusted to your tastes as well?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think the nature of cooking is to personalise it. I merely look at recipes for inspiration and proportions and then let it fly. I realize "Bolognese" is a recipe actually recorded or whatever in the city of Bologna but for my meat sauce I prefer red wine and use Chianti. I also add more pancetta because I like the pork flavor. We make our own pancetta and I really like the fresh flavor.

    1. Hazan's Bolognese is really (to me) "Bolognese Lite."

      Mine includes beef, pork, veal and chicken livers -- and no carrots. It cooks for a whole day and is eaten on the second. Two bottles of chianti or other Sangiovese go in and are reduced slowly. The "backbone" is a *lot* of caramelized onion.

      To me, a good Bolognese should be so extremely concentrated and intense it makes you sweat when you eat it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: shaogo

        That sounds really good, shaogo. Do you mind elaborating on it? :) I love the idea of no carrots. I like carrots, but I don't want my ragu to be sweet, and I find that that invariably happens when carrot is added.

        I have used the CI version a few times, pretty much to the t, but also have tweeked with more garlic, salt and paste. I use whole milk, which, I think, is what it calls for.

        1. re: Phurstluv

          I can't specify amounts, because I just make as much sauce as is produced by the amount of meat I buy.

          At least one big fat sweet onion for each pound of meat. Mince brisket or chuck, coarsely minced pork and coarsely minced veal and cut up the onions (they're going to melt). Sautee everything in olive oil until the onions clarify. I add some minced celery to this mixture if I think of it.

          Chicken livers should be 1/10th of the meat mixture. Add the chicken livers, minced, raw, to the sauteed meat mixture. Add a couple of Bay Leaves and as much minced garlic as you care to.

          Now, add the first bottle of Chianti. Simmer the sauce for hours, just barely bubbling. When the wine's nearly all gone, and the sauce is very, very "tight," add another bottle of wine. Keep simmering. For hours. The sauce should be a rich, dark brown color. When the second bottle's 3/4 evaporated, add a can or two of Pastene or Cento crushed San Marzano tomatoes, including the liquid. Check salt and pepper seasoning. At this point I add a cup of shredded pecorino Romano cheese and a tiny grating of fresh nutmeg. Heat through, then take off the stove and, eventually, refrigerate. Reheat the next day and serve with radiatore pasta, or, if you like, fettucine.

          The onions in this recipe might tend to make this a bit sweet for your taste, Phurstluv, if you don't care for carrots. However, it's so deliciously concentrated, you might not notice (additionally, the wine tempers the onions' sweetness somewhat).

          1. re: shaogo

            Sounds awesome, thanks so much, shaogo. I really appreciate it, and have started saving chicken livers for this purpose now.

            I will be giving it a go, prolly in a few weeks. Will let you know. PS - Love sweet onions, but don't find they lend a lot of sweet to the ragu, but carrots do?! Anyway, you really use 2 bottles of chianti?! I'd better stock up!! Thanks again. P.

      2. I started with a variation. ;) Consulted Marcella, of course, but I wanted the mixed meats, and no carrots. So it was equal parts beef, pork, and veal. Caramelized onions. Whole tomatoes. I did use milk, which freaked me out when it curdled at first (duh, it mixed with the wine...), but it weirdly disappeared after the whole lot just baaaaarely simmered overnight. I can't even taste a dairy component now, which seems odd. I also did use garlic, which might be anathema to some but... sue me, I like garlic.

        Next time, I'll do red wine (I liked the white ok but it seemed a little anemic) and tomato paste. I might do cream, come to think of it. I like the idea of it being a bit creamy.

        I also sort of wish it wasn't QUITE so meaty. Maybe that's truly heretical, but I'm not a big fan of meat generally, and though I liked the sauce, I found the texture of the meat a little overwhelming. Has anyone else experimented with less meat? I'd probably just double everything else and leave the amount of meat the same. (FYI, it was a large can of whole tomatoes, 1 cup each wine and milk to one pound of meat.)

        1 Reply
        1. re: LauraGrace

          I also add some garlic and use red wine - but here's the big one - I use an immersion blender on the sauce - it makes a much smoother finished product -

        2. i add extra garlic and use a mix of meat.

          i wish there wasn't so much carrots in there and more tomatoey - so next time i'll do more tomatoes and tomato paste and less carrots.

          i've made mine with both red and white wine and i like the one with the red wine. next time, i will do chianti. sounds like the right thing to do.