Serves a Crowd

Faulknerian Family Ragu Bolognese

April 22, 2011
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 8-10
Author Notes

At a certain point, you have to give up on the idea of having a traditional family. Or any family at all, in some cases. And so it goes with the traditional holiday meals. This is what I used to make at Christmas, for the tattered remains of my family. Now, it's the dish I make for people I consider my (non-related) family. It is everything I want to be as a cook: generous, comforting, rich and simple, loving and sublime. And while I'm at it, everything I'd like to be as person, too. Family, food, ourselves: a work in progress, always. I created this dish many years ago, cherry picking what I liked from a Mario Batali recipe and a Mark Bittman recipe. It's richer and longer cooked, as I recall, than either of the originals. I add more dairy pretty late in the game. And I messed around with the proportions of beef/veal/pork. I'm not crazy about tomato paste. You can use really good bacon instead of pancetta if you'd like; I use scissors to mince bacon, and so should you.

What You'll Need
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, scraped and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, minced or ground
  • 2 cups cream, half and half, or milk, or a combination
  • 1 35 oz can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, with their juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. In a very large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic; saute over medium until translucent.
  2. Raise heat to medium high; add veal, pork, beef and pancetta to the vegetables and brown for about 15 minutes, breaking up clumps of meat with the back of a spoon. You really want it to brown. Turn up the heat if you have to.
  3. Add half the cream and simmer over medium heat until almost dry, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, breaking them apart with your hands, and their juice, and simmer over medium heatfor 20 minutes. Add the wine and broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours, uncovered.
  4. After two hours, add remaining cream. Simmer for another 1/2 hour, or longer, until the flavor has intensified and the sauce has become somewhat dry. This is not a saucy sauce; it's a meaty one. It's also rather pink.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pappardelle; pass freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano at the table.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Oui, Chef
    Oui, Chef
  • mrslarkin
  • EmilyNunn
  • drbabs
  • Midge

11 Reviews

JamieATL June 9, 2019
I've made this like 10 times.My family requests it and though I have to make sure I have the time for simmering it's otherwise fool proof and pretty easy. It freezes well, but we just eat it 3 days in a row and it's gone. I can never find a 35 oz can of tomatoes (they're all 28) and i actually use 3 28 oz cans because my family likes a little more tomato flavor. Cooking it right now.
Oui, C. April 28, 2011
Traditional families are boring, and boring is no fun. I'll take a crazy family with sublime food any day! - S
EmilyNunn May 6, 2011
Me, too, Oui!
mrslarkin April 27, 2011
What a beautiful bolognese, my favorite pasta sauce. Sounds really lovely.
EmilyNunn May 6, 2011
I hope you try it, and if you do I hope you love it.
EmilyNunn April 27, 2011
Thanks, you guys. This sauce will never ever ever fail you.
drbabs April 26, 2011
Every Southern family is Faulknerian in its own way. Lovely recipe.
Ilalia April 25, 2011
Coming from a nontraditional blended family I am moved by your headnote and I plan to give your recipe a try for my family!,,,,not to mention it really looks good.
Midge April 25, 2011
What a great headnote. Love your recipe too.
gingerroot April 25, 2011
This sounds wonderful and I love your headnote.
boulangere April 24, 2011
Love your title and head note!