Friday, September 26, 2014

Nothing Beats a Big Fat Bolognese

When the moon hits your eye like a pie...that's a BOLOGNESE. Okay. I know that isn't how the little song goes...but honestly there isn't anything better than a big bolognese! And who do I turn to when I need the recipe? You got it...Anne Burrell!

If you go to my Recipes Page you will see quite a few recipes that I've shared from the wonderful Anne Burrell. She's been one of the main chefs that has helped transform who I am as a home cook. She's taught me how to own my kitchen as well as the food that comes out of it. I'm no longer afraid to salt my food, and I know the importance of being patient when it comes to developing deep flavors in soups and braises. I'm happy that I'm able to pass along these recipes to you, and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do!

Well this recipe is one of my favorites, it's her Big Fat Bolognese! This is a wonderfully hearty meal, and you can either use spaghetti that you purchases at the store in a box, or you can use her recipe to make home made pasta. I chose to make home made pasta, so I'll include a link to the post I made where I showed you how! :)

Now when you make this bolognese, it's not something that you just decide at 5 pm that  you are going to have it for dinner at 6...this is a plan ahead meal. You need to give this time to simmer on the stove and develop the rich and wonderful flavors. If you have a day that you'll be at home working around the house, this a great thing to have bubbling on the stove. After you get the bulk of it done, its mainly just reducing and adding water and reducing some more, so you will be able to get a lot of things done while it's cooking.

Okay...I've babbled on enough! Let's get to the recipe. Oh, one more thing...this makes a large pot of bolognese, so I simmer it down and use as much as I need for the meal that night, then I reduce it even further to concentrate the flavors...even adding a bit more salt. I do this because I will portion it out and freeze it flat in zip lock baggies and when it comes time to use it...I'll thaw it, add some water and simmer it some more. I did this and gave some of this batch along with some fresh pasta to my wonderful friend Mary. :)

Alright...let's get on with the recipe!

~Anne Burrell's Big Fat Bolognese!~


- 1 Large Onion, or 2 Small, Diced
- 2 Large Carrots, Diced
- 3 Ribs of Celery, Diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- 3 lbs Ground Chuck, Brisket or Round (I used 1 lb of each)
- 2 Cups of Tomato Paste
- 3 Cups of Red Wine (Cabernet)
- Water
- 3 Bay Leaves
- Thyme Bundle
- 1 lb Spaghetti or other Pasta Or this Recipe Anne Burrell's Fresh Pasta
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

The Recipe:

For this recipe I used 1 lb of each of ground meats, I actually asked the butcher to grind up the meat, and they of course were happy to! Don't be afraid to ask them! :)

Rule number 1...Mise en place. Get everything ready. All the veggies that you need for the beginning, get them done. Dice the Onion, Carrots, Celery and peel the Garlic.

Put the Onions, Carrots, Celery & Garlic into the food processor.

Pulse until its a coarse paste.

Put enough oil into the bottom of a large dutch oven, enough to cover. Heat it up over Medium-High heat.

Pour in the mixture from the food processor.

Season with Kosher Salt, generously.

Let this cook until all the water is cooked out of it. Stirring it often. This should take about 20 minutes. But be patient, if it takes longer...let it.

Let it cook for a while, then stir it, scraping it off the bottom. This is the first step where you are browning the food. This creates flavor. As Anne Burrell says..."BROWN FOOD TASTES GOOD!" :)
So stir, let it brown, scrape it, let it brown.

Once all the water has cooked out of it, and the mixture has browned, add the meat.

Season with Kosher Salt, generously. Remember, seasoning every step of the way is key to this dish!

I like to use a potato masher to break up the meat, this helps tremendously. Once it's broken up, mix it with the mixture that's already in there, and then let the meat brown...brown....brown. This should take another 20 minutes or so.

See, looking good! Brown Food LOOKS Good! :)

Now it's time to add the tomato paste.

Mix it in and then guess what...let it BROWN! :) You guessed it. This should only take about 5 minutes. Make sure to stir this because you don't want it to burn. If you notice it burning, turn down the heat a bit.

Now it's time to bring the wine to the party. In each bottle of wine there is a little more than 3 cups of wine, so I like to pour in enough wine that it leaves me a little pour. You have to have some fun when you cook, right? :)

Mix in the wine and allow this to reduce to about 1/2. This should take another 5 minutes or so.

Now it's time for the water. Add enough water to cover the meat mixture by an inch or so. You can't add too much water. The whole thing is to add water, let it reduce, then add more water and let it reduce. This is how the flavors develop.

After adding the water, toss in the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Give everything a nice stir. Bring this to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer.

By letting this simmer and reduce you are developing the deep, rich flavors. During this time you'll probably need to add 2 to 3 cups of water at a time, several times. You want to do this for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Longer is better. During this, make sure to TASTE and add Kosher Salt if needed. You will need it...believe me.

Now it's time for the pasta. For this you will need the following:

- 3 3/4 Cups of Flour
- 1/4 Cup of Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- 2 Tablespoons of Water
- 4 Large Eggs plus 1 Yolk

I like to make my pasta on the counter top or on the table, not on a board.

Place the flour in a mound on the counter top.

Make a big well in the center and add the Eggs, Egg Yolk, Olive Oil, Kosher Salt and Water.

Using a fork, break the yolks and mix everything together.

Using the fork, start incorporating the flour into the wet ingredients. Be careful not to break the wall of the well.

Keep doing this until enough of the flour has been added that the wet mixture is no longer runny.

At this point I switch to my hands as well as a bench scraper.

Now comes the fun part...get your hands into it! This is the MOST important part of the entire process. You need to knead this dough for about 15 minutes. During this you might need to add more flour if the dough is too sticky, or some more water if the dough is too dry. Only add a little bit at a time, if needed.

Put everything you have into it. You want to stretch it and using the heels of your palms roll the dough over itself. Be careful not to rip the dough, you just want to stretch it. REALLY give this all you got. After the 15 minutes is up the dough should be nice and smooth.

Once you get to this stage, you are golden!

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.

This is what will happen to your bolognese as it is reducing, it's going to get an "oil slick" on the top. don't worry, this in normal.

Using a big spoon, skim the fat off the top and into a container to throw away.

After the dough has rested an hour, I cut it into fourths. Flour your surface and then roll out once piece at a time.

Make sure to flour it, you don't want it to stick during this process.

I have a pasta roller/cutter attachment for my Kitchen Aid was a WONDERFUL gift from my Dad and Stepmom! :) If you don't have this, I have rolled out pasta by hand. It's FUN! Well it's a lot of work, but you REALLY do appreciate the meal if you do this! :) But for this I used my roller and it made quick work of it.

I then used the linguine cutter and cut the pasta. But you can also cut this by hand. It can be done! And some day I'll do a recipe for you and I'll show you how I do that! :)

Now would be a good time to get a pot of salted water boiling for your pasta! For fresh pasta you will only need to boil it for about 3 minutes. If you are using boxed pasta (and yes I used boxed pasta ALL THE TIME) cook it to what the instructions say.

Once your bolognese has simmered down to it's wonderful state...I like to combine everything in a separate pan. I put in some of the sauce and let it heat up.

Once heated I toss the pasta into the sauce.

Then add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese as well as a couple of passes of olive oil. And give it all a great big stir to combine. This is the part where the pasta and the sauce become one. The cheese becomes the glue that holds them together. If you need to, add some of the pasta water to thin the sauce a bit and help the situation along.

Dish up some of the pasta in a bowl, pour a little more sauce on top and top it with some more cheese, a swirl of good olive oil and some fresh cracked black pepper! YUMMY!

Now my mouth is watering, it's not even funny! This is one of my favorite sauces to make, freeze and have on hand! And the house smells so good after this has been simmering on the stove!!

I hope that you give this recipe a try, and believe me it tastes just as good if you use all ground chuck, I've done it both ways. And normally I have it in me to make fresh pasta once a month or so, so any other time I use the sauce it's normally with store bought pasta, believe me...I keep boxes of it pasta on hand! :) No shame in that game.

Well I suppose I should get going, I have to get some things done around the house...the work of a housewife is NEVER done. :)

Give this recipe a try and as always let me know what you think! :)

Until next time...Keep Cookin'!


  1. DELICIOUS!!!!!! I have made this before and loved it!!!! Have you ever tried adding Semolina flour to your pasta? I use 1/3 Semolina when I make pasta and LOVE the texture it adds. It's a better "chew" than just flour. Try it sometime, you will love it :)

  2. No, I haven't added semolina! I usually use it to dust the pan when I make ravioli to keep it from sticking though!!! :)

  3. I have never tried this, but I am going to and soon.... this looks so good.....

  4. Looks SO good! Can I do this on my granite counter top? Also, I have the meat grinder attachment for my kitchen aid mixer.. can I ground the meat myself? (Still need to get the pasta attachment). Thanks for your help!! Can't wait to make this!!

  5. Let me know what you think of it when you try it!!! :)

  6. Stephanie, you TOTALLY can! :) I have the meat grinder attachment too! One word of advice...cut up the meat into smaller chunks, then pop it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. It will move through the grinder better! Otherwise when it's warm it gets all "gummy" and clogs it!

    Let me know what you think of the recipe when you make it!!!

  7. Will do! Thanks for the tip!! :)