Meat-based pasta sauces are popular throughout Italy. The most prominent, ragù alla Bolognese, originated in the northern city of Bologna. Even among residents of the city from which it hails, different variations abound.
2 ounces pancetta, finely minced
2 cups finely chopped onion (about 1 large)
1 cup finely chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
3/4 cup finely chopped carrot
12 ounces ground veal
12 ounces ground pork
4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 whole cloves
2 allspice berries
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 3/4 cups whole milk
6 quarts water
12 ounces uncooked tagliatelle or fettuccine
6 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
How to Make It
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add pancetta to pan, and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chopped onion, chopped celery, and chopped carrot; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add ground veal, ground pork, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in wine. Cook for 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium-low.
Place 5 parsley sprigs and next 3 ingredients (through thyme) on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Add cheesecloth bag and milk to pan; bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat 1 hour or until thick, stirring occasionally. Discard cheesecloth bag.
Bring 6 quarts water and remaining 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in an 8-quart pot. Add pasta to pot; stir. Cover; return water to a boil. Uncover and cook 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain. Place 1 cup pasta in each of 6 shallow bowls; spoon about 3/4 cup sauce over each serving. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.
Wine note: A pasta with Bolognese sauce needs a wine that will balance the richness of the pork, veal, and pancetta, plus mirror the acidity of the tomato paste. A wine made from sangiovese grapes—such as Chianti—is ideal. Opt specifically for a Chianti Classico, which is richer and earthier than basic Chianti. A great wine for the price is the Banfi Chianti Classico 2005 ($14). —Karen MacNeil