ANCIENT BOLOGNESE SAUCE
Bolognese sauce is arguably the most popular pasta condiment globally. The original recipe comes straight from Bologna, located in the heart of Italy and I recently visited, in search of the best one I could find. I was incredibly surprised to come across an antique recipe that absolutely blew my mind.
A secret to making traditional bolognese sauce is to actually use cheaper cuts of meat. In ancient Italian times, they only had access to low-end cuts of meat, so that’s why this recipe calls for chicken liver (the only time a real Italian recipe calls for chicken), guanciale, pork blade roast, and beef blade roast. While the original recipe also contains heart, liver, and other internals of the cow, I switched it so we use more common cuts of meat that are easy to find in a local store near you.
Now, are you ready for the best bolognese of your life?
Vincenzo’s Plate Tips
Choose Cheap Cuts of Meat
This recipe is ancient and authentic, using only the cheapest cuts of meat from beef, pork, and even chicken. You can easily switch certain meats around — pancetta instead of guanciale, beef hearts and beef liver instead of blade roast — and still have a traditional Italian sauce.
Remove the “Nerves”
When cutting the various types of meat, make sure to remove the flabby white sinew on the edges of your meat cuts. I call them the “nerves.” They are tough to cook, and nobody wants to eat them in a sauce. Start by slicing the beef, pork, and chicken, removing all of the “nerves” in the process. Then, dice the slices of meat into small chunks so they cook down well. In this way they are easy to separate once they’re incorporated into the sauce. As for the guanciale, remove the skin and excess spices on the edges of the cut, then slice them into strips and dice.
Select a Deep Casserole Pot for Stewing
You will have to cook this sauce for four to five hours, so getting a large cast iron casserole dish is ideal for the lengthy cooking time. This will help seal in all the flavors while withstanding heat for that long. Whether it’s cast iron or not, the pot must be big and must be deep to make sure every ingredient gets a good share of heat.
Cook the Guanciale First
This does two things. One, it allows the guanciale to become crispy first before it simmers for a few hours. By the end of the cooking, it will no longer be crispy, but it will have maintained its firmness, which adds to the texture of the sauce. Secondly, it releases the oils adding to the rich mixture of flavors in the bolognese sauce.
Use Boiling Water to Avoid Reduction
Throughout the simmering process, add boiling water every 45 minutes or whenever you notice the sauce starts to reduce. You can see the sauce reducing on the sides of the pot as there will be a ring around it from where the sauce used to be. Rehydrate it with half a cup of boiling water. Continue to do this until the five hours of slow-cooking are up.
How to Serve Ancient Bolognese Sauce
To serve this classic, out-of-this-world bolognese sauce, simply cook the pasta of your choosing. (Ideally, fettuccine or tagliatelle). Then transfer a portion of pasta to a bowl, and use a ladle to pour a generous serve of bolognese sauce on top. Add a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano (or pecorino!) at the end and enjoy
Ancient Bolognese Sauce Recipe
- Masher or fork
- Casserole pot cast iron preferably
- 4-5 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil EVOO
- 200 grams Chicken liver 7 oz
- 150 grams Guanciale or pancetta. 5 oz
- 500 grams Pork blade roast 18 oz
- 400 grams Beef blade roast 14 oz
- 800 g Peeled tomatoes
- 800 grams Tomato passata 28 oz
- 3 tbsp Tomato paste
- ½ White onion chopped
- Celery stick chopped
- Carrot chopped
- 2 glasses Red wine
- ½ cup Milk
- Salt as much as required
- Pepper as much as required
- Boiled water as much as required
To make the bolognese sauce:
- Cut the chicken livers, pork blade roast, beef blade roast, and guanciale into small pieces. Set aside.
- Pour the peeled tomatoes into a bowl and mash them down.
- Next, add EVOO into the large pot and heat on a grill or stovetop on medium heat before adding the onions, celery, and carrot, and cook for 15 minutes or until soft.
- Five minutes into cooking, add half a cup of red wine.
- Now add the chopped guanciale along with more red wine when the mixture starts to dry out.
- Add chopped chicken liver, beef blade roast, and pork blade roast then sprinkle a small pinch of salt into the pot. Use a wooden spoon to combine.
- Add a full glass of red wine and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes or until the wine evaporates.
- Then combine the tomato paste, peeled tomatoes, and tomato passata before stirring well.
- Keep the temperature on low and stir every 20 minutes for 4-5 hours.
- Add ½ cup of boiling water to the sauce whenever it appears to be drying up or simply each time you check it. This will help the sauce remain liquid.
- Once the sauce is ready - 5 hours of simmering time - add plenty of salt and pepper and transfer a generous helping to a frying pan on low heat.
- At this point add cooked pasta in, stir to incorporate the sauce into the pasta, and add a little more bolognese on top. Toss for a full mix of pasta and sauce!
- Serve on a plate with a twist of the pasta to keep everything together. Add even more sauce on top, and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano. Get ready for an explosion of flavor!
E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate…Enjoy!
Want to know where to find the best food in Bologna?
Last year I was in Bologna, and there I decided to go in search of the best Bolognese food I could find. If you are planning a trip to Bologna I highly recommend you to consult my very personal guides:
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