To start, forgive the excessive amount of pasta posts on this blog. If I haven’t made it clear, I LOVE pasta. Pretty much everyone who knows me, knows this. Ever since I was a little kid, I made my preference for pasta exceedingly clear. I would go over to friends houses and when their parents asked me what I wanted to have for lunch, the answer was always “pasta.” No peanut butter and jelly for this girl. One of my favorite memories is of my best friends mother, an amazing Italian woman, who would always, without fail, be ecstatic to prepare one of my favorite pasta dishes for lunch for me. I always remember those lunches with a lot of happiness, and I think they have a lot to do with my intense obsession with pasta.
So, that being said, when it came time for me to make Christmas Dinner, my first thought was naturally, pasta. I chose bolognese sauce because it is simple to make in large batches, and if there is extra sauce you can freeze it and use in the future for a quick pasta dinner. This sauce was a huge success and I think it is extremely useful to have some in the freezer if you are ever pressed for time when dinner comes around.
Makes enough sauce for 8
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 celery rib, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta, cubed
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground lamb
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- one 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Parmesan cheese for plating
- 2 pounds pasta (I used shell shapes)
Start with the celery, onion and carrot. This is known as the “holy trinity” in Italian cooking because they are so widely used together as the base for many dishes. I love using these elements because they are an easy way to add a lot of flavor to dishes and they smell amazing.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan until it shimmers, and throw the onions, carrots and celery, along with the pancetta into the pot. Cook on medium heat until the veggies are soft and fragrant. Stir occasionally.
Remove the vegetables and pancetta with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate.
Next, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and again heat until it shimmers. Add the lamb and beef to the pot and cook over medium high heat until just pink, breaking up the meat into little chunks with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add the vegetable mixture back to the pot, along with the chopped garlic. Heat until this becomes fragrant, then add the white wine.
As a side note, I love wine in any kind of cooking. Perhaps it is the college student in me, but I honestly think it boosts the flavor times ten.
Cook the wine, meat and vegetables over medium heat until the wine is almost evaporated. This will take about 9 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the chicken stock, the oregano, the thyme and the bay leaf to the pot.
Season the sauce with pepper and salt, and bring to a boil. Partially cover the sauce and simmer for an hour. While this is happening, cook the pasta and reserve.
After the sauce has simmered, remove the bay leaf. Bring the sauce to medium heat and stir in the cream. Remove from heat.
Serve the sauce over some pasta with some grated cheese on top. A perfect, easy and filling dinner!