1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef or pork
2 oz pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, core removed and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
¼ teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
¼ teaspoon freshly chopped oregano
1 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup red wine
3 cups canned diced tomatoes
1 cup beef or vegetable broth
¼ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons salt
1. Pulse onion and fennel in a food processor or chop with a chef’s knife until finely chopped. Reserve in a bowl for use in step 5.
2. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil until it shimmers.
3. When the oil is hot, begin browning the ground meat a half pound at a time. Don’t worry about crumbling it up at this point, the goal is to get some nice golden-brown caramelization on as much surface area of the meat as possible. Once you brown all the meat, transfer it to a bowl and reserve for step 6.
4. Sauté pancetta or bacon until it renders some fat and begins to crisp.
5. Add the onion, fennel and half of the salt to the pot and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the minced garlic, nutmeg and herbs. When you smell the fragrant aroma of the cooking garlic, stir in the tomato paste and the red wine. Reduce the red wine until it is almost gone.
6. Add the ground beef, stewed tomatoes and broth, bring to a low simmer. Simmer the sauce as low as possible for 2 hours. You can skim the fat that rises to the surface while the sauce simmers if you’d like. This is totally optional as the fat adds a lot of flavor to the sauce (we prefer to leave it and just mix it into the sauce).
7. After a couple of hours, finish the sauce by stirring in the heavy cream and taste for seasoning. Add the remaining teaspoon of salt if desired.
This bolognese is delicious garnished simply with freshly grated Parmesan and flat leaf parsley. Serve with your favorite pasta or even spooned over grilled country bread.