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Author Notes: Traditional Emilia Romagna Bolognese Sauce is made with equal parts pork, veal and ground beef. In this recipe, I've "Americanized" it by using wild boar, venison, and buffalo - a trio of three very American meats. Because the game meats are stronger and more robust in flavor, I added porcini mushrooms and their liquid to give it an even earthier flavor. If you can't get venison, by all means use ground beef or veal. Ground buffalo is widely available in many supermarkets these days, and I'm lucky to live near a large ranch that supplies both the boar and buffalo. Venison is courtesy of a neighbor who hunts. —Burnt Offerings
Serves 6 - 8
- 1.5 ounces Dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup hydrated)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 - 4 ounces finely diced pancetta, or unsmoked, cured bacon
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 large, or 3 medium carrots, finely diced
- 2 large ribs of celery, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic (about 2 Tbl) minced
- 1/2 pound ground wild boar (use pork if you can't find boar)
- 1/2 pound ground venison
- 1 pound ground buffalo
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, thyme, basil and rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 28 ounces can of diced or pureed tomatoes - I like the fire roasted kind for flavor.
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup heavy cream
- chopped parsely
- 1 pound freshly cooked pasta noodles: rigatoni, orichette, penne, bucatini, etc.
- lots of freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese
- Soak the porcini mushrooms in the boiling water for about 30 minutes to soften. Strain the soaking liquid through a piece of cheese cloth or paper coffee filter and reserve. Chop mushrooms finely and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the chopped pancetta. Cook until just getting crispy.
- Add the diced onions, carrots and celery, and saute till soft - about 8 minutes. As the vegetables release their juice, scrape up any brown bits from the pancetta.
- Add the chopped garlic and stir through for a minute or so.
- Add all the meat, breaking it up into crumbles with the edge of a flat spatula. Cook the meat thoroughly until browned - about 10 minutes.
- Make a hole in the center of the pan by pushing all the meat and vegetables to the sides, add the tomato paste, and let it stir fry in the center for a minute or two until it turns a darker red, and gives off a faintly nutty aroma. Once it's cooked, mix it into the meat and stir well.
- Add the red wine and cook until almost all is evaporated.
- Add the herbs and bay leaf and stir well.
- Add the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and chopped mushrooms, and the can of diced or pureed tomatoes and juices.
- Add the salt and peppers.
- Turn the heat down to a bare simmer and cover the pot, leaving the lid ajar slightly to let steam escape. You want a very low simmer to let the flavors build. If the sauce becomes too dry, add some meat stock or water. Let the sauce simmer on the stove for 2 - 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally and tasting / correcting for seasoning.
- When the sauce is nearly done, add the cream and bring back to a bare simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
- Serve over your favorite pasta with the chopped parsley and freshly grated cheese. This is one of those dishes that is even better the second or third day.