If you’ve read Where the Light Glows, you’ll know that Mel’s favorite food at Bella’s Trattoria is the bolognese sauce. I thought I’d let you in on the recipe. This has been handed down for generations, so don’t tell Izzy I told you!
Izzy’s Bolognese Sauce
Izzy generally cooks this sauce from memory, so these measurements are not exact. Once you cook it a time or two, you won’t have to measure either.
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup butter
1 large onion diced
4 small carrots diced
4 stalks celery heart diced
4 garlic cloves, diced finely
4.5 oz. diced pancetta
Heat the butter and the oil together in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted and the saucepan is hot, add the onion, carrot, celery (this mixture is traditionally known as mirepoix), garlic, and a good pinch of salt. Sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until your onions become translucent. Add the diced pancetta and cook for another 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and pancetta is golden brown.
2.5 lbs. lean ground meat (Izzy uses a blend of veal, pork and beef – you can use beef or, for non-beef lovers, Izzy substitutes turkey or chicken)
Increase the heat to high and add the meat in several batches, breaking lumps with a spoon between each batch. This allows the meat to brown. Cook for about 15 minutes to allow the meat caramelize for more flavor. Izzy says to keep an eye on it, you don’t want the meat to burn. After the meat has caramelized somewhat, lower heat to medium until you reach the end of the 15-minute sautéing time.
1 cup dry white wine (Izzy uses Mel’s favorite white, Chardonnay, because she thinks it makes no difference whether you use red or white)
Pour the white wine into the pan for deglazing. Scrape any caramelized meat stuck to the pan from the surface, the wine should evaporate while you’re scraping.
1 cup milk (Izzy says this smooths the texture)
1 28-oz can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, emulsified in a food processor or blender (both the liquid and the tomatoes)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup stock (beef or chicken)
Add milk, diced tomatoes with liquid, stock, 1 tsp salt and some fresh ground black pepper. Bring to a boil before lowering heat to let simmer slowly with the pan half-covered for about 4 hours, stirring every so often to prevent the sauce from sticking. If the sauce thickens too much, add a touch more stock or water. This is a meat-based sauce and should be thick. Dip excess oil from the top of sauce and adjust the seasoning one last time before serving.
To serve: Add a few pads of butter and stir in some freshly grated parmesan cheese to keep the sauce thick (Izzy says this will create an incredibly creamy flavor.)
Choose whichever fresh or dry pasta you prefer, linguine, pappardelle, spaghetti, rigatoni, or farfalle cooked in salted boiling water according to the manufacturer’s instructions (Izzy used pappardelle.) Cook the pasta (Izzy says when the pasta sticks to the ceiling, it’s perfect), drain thoroughly, do not rinse, and return to the pot. Spoon just enough sauce to coat the pasta into the pot and mix gently. Serve with more grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.