I find it hard to believe that I haven't posted this recipe as it was the first thing my father ever taught me how to make. My dad lived quite the life in the swinging sixties, living in Africa and Europe and even spent a stint in Rome, where the story goes that a baroness taught him this recipe. He must have been quite a sight zipping about in his swanky Mercedes 300SL with his Mad Men skinny ties and pants, smoking slim cigars with abandon and sipping on his neat scotch. He even had a valet named Wolde who looked after him. Those were the days!!
The first time I assisted as his sous chef in making this divine sauce, I was about five. I got to saute the veggies and brown the meat and pour in the herbs and tomatoes and had to stir it every hour as it cooked slowly on the stove in our cute little kitchen in the Adelaide hills. One time while he was overseas on business, my mother and I were hit with a terrible flu and she was too weak to shop or cook, so we both squealed with delight when she found his sauce neatly stacked in the deep freezer. We warmed some up and ate it straight; it was so comforting. Funny the things we remember, isn't it? Then a few weeks after dad died from a sudden heart attack while I was still a teen, mom and I found his beloved sauce once again neatly stacked away for a cold winter's night. We had winter in our hearts that evening and both of us ate his sauce with tears in our eyes as it brought him back to life, even if for just a little bit. I always have some Bolognese tucked away for those nights when I want something rich and comforting- like a hug from my wonderful dad.
Dad's Bolognese Sauce (Makes about 2 gallons- and many, many meals)
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large onions chopped
1 Cup chopped celery
1 Cup finely diced carrots
12 cloves of garlic, diced
2 pounds ground veal
2 pounds ground sirloin
1 pound ground pork
56 oz Whole San Marzano tomatoes
24 oz tomato sauce
12 oz tomato paste
1 Cup red wine such as chianti or sangiovese
10 dried bayleaves
4 Tbs dried sweet basil
3 Tbs dried oregano
2 Tbs fennel seeds (optional- some folks just hate fennel)
1 Tbs dried thyme
2 Tbs Garlic powder
3 Tbs dried onion powder
OPTIONAL... 2 Tbs Ethiopian Berbere spice (This was something he added while living in Somalia- you can get it at Ethiopian restaurants and it is SPICY). 2 Tbs dried red chilli flakes will also add a nice kick.
5 Tbs Worchester or Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbs fresh black pepper
3 Tbs salt and add additional to taste of needed.
1 cup whipping cream
In a large dutch oven, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat until soft about 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery and garlic and saute another 10 minutes, stirring often to not burn garlic. Add meat and brown about 30 minutes, breaking up any large chunks. Add remaining ingredients except the cream, cover and simmer over low about 4 hours, stirring hourly (and sampling of course). Thenwhen it is finished, stir in the cream for a velvety richness.
I absolutely LOVE making fresh pasta with my Kitchen Aid pasta maker, so whipped up some fettuccine, boiled it about 3 minutes, added it to a pan with a few tablespoons of the pasta water and stirred in 1.5 cups of the sauce. Okay, and 1 Tbs butter, because let's face it, butter makes everything better! The pasta dough recipe is HERE. Garnish with chopped parsley and lots of fresh grated Parmesan cheese. A true gift from Heaven!!