Today I am sharing with you a hearty Italian dish. The sauce is flavorful, and the recipe makes enough to feed a hungry crowd (or to have plenty of leftovers for lunch the following day).
4 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 oz pancetta, diced
1/2 C dried porcini, soaked, drained and chopped (we omitted as hubby and #2 detest mushrooms)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 lb ground pork
1 lb extra-lean ground beef
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (we use white)
4 TBS tomato paste
1 1/2 C red wine
2 C low-sodium chicken stock (we use Kitchen Basics)
1 large can San Marzano crushed tomatoes (28oz) *we couldn't find them already crushed, so we purchased whole and crushed with a potato masher)
4 tsp chopped fresh basil, plus torn leaves for garnish is desired
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1-2 pounds of your favorite pasta (we used penne, fine pasta such as spaghetti or angel hair won't stand up to the heavy sauce)
Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish (we used Follow Your Heart Shredded Parm for a dairy free option)
1. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, porcini, garlic, onions, carrots and celery. Cook 6-7 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring frequently so the vegetables don't burn or stick. Deglaze the pan with a 1/2 cup of red wine.
2. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the meat browns evenly. Salt and pepper liberally. Then, add the tomato paste and saute for 2 minutes.
3. Next, add the vegetables and pancetta to the pot with the meat. Then, add the remaining 1 cup red wine to deglaze the pot. Scrape all the bits and pieces that might accumulate and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Then, add the chicken stock and crushed tomatoes and simmer very gently for 1.5 hours or until the liquid is absorbed.
4. Adjust seasonings to taste (you can add a bit more salt and pepper at this point). Finish the sauce with the chopped basil and thyme.
5. You have two options for serving: (1) You can add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water directly to the pot of bolognese sauce and simmer for 2 minutes to incorporate the sauce into the pasta or (2) You can add the pasta to a plate and spoon the sauce on top of the pasta (how we chose to serve).
6. Garnish with the Pecorino Romano cheese (optional), torn basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top.
* You will notice in the photo above that the pasta is "mixed", that's what happens when you are trying to use up what you have and want leftovers for lunches ;-)