Nick’s Healthy Bolognese Sauce

By Nicholas Wilkes 

With many of us off placements or back home and learning from online lectures, now is a good time to try some new healthy recipes when you need a break from studying. This week, I’d recommend trying this healthy Bolognese sauce recipe that I shamelessly stole from my mom. It’s a great meal prep item as you can easily scale up the size of batch to match your needs, and as most of the ingredients are optional, can still be readily made with the limited supplies on the supermarket shelves!

Below are some photos I took of the process of making it, hope you all enjoy it as much as I do, and if you haven’t made a Bolognese sauce before here’s a video my mom made of the recipe:

Ingredients

Soffritto base

75 g (1/2 cup) chopped onion

50 g (1/3 cup) chopped carrots

100 g (1 cup) chopped celery stalk

20 g fresh garlic

80 g – olive oil

8 g (1 tsp) – salt – can use gourmet salts like Himalayan but not iodine enriched

2 g (1 tsp) ground black pepper

Meat

650 g lean ground beef (for a less fatty sauce) or medium ground beef

175 g chopped pork belly slices (or pancetta)

Other

4 g (1 tbsp) dried oregano

10 g (2 tsp) Worcestershire sauce

500 g (2 cups) pureed canned whole (+/- San Marzano) tomatoes – (remove water to weigh whole tomatoes, then puree adding back the water)

100 g (1/2 cup) dry red wine – +/- dealcoholized

800 g (3 to 4 cups) water (more if too much evaporates)

Last (optional)

110g (1/2 cup) heavy cream after it has cooled, mix well

Method

Soffritto Base 

1. It is highly recommended that you prep all the ingredients and have them ready before you begin to cook. This will make it easier, faster and you will not scorch anything (scorched vegetables ruin the taste of the Bolognese sauce)

2.   Grate the carrots, garlic, onions and celery. Place each ingredient in a distinct pile and set aside while you prep the rest of the ingredients (Grating or if you prefer chopping very thinly, will enhance the release of the flavors as you cook them in turn).

3.   Use a large and deep heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and pour in your olive oil.

4.   When oil is simmering, add in the carrots, celery and onions. Stir and cook over low heat until onions are translucent (do not brown).

5.   Add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir. Continue cooking over low heat for about 2 minutes.

6.   Add the oregano, stir and cook for 2 more minutes. (The process of adding one or two ingredients at a time allows for the flavors to be released and incorporated before the next ingredient is added – this adds to the complexity of the flavor.)

Adding the meat

7.   Make a clearing in the center of the soffritto base and add the pork belly/pancetta (which has been chopped into small pieces for faster frying and better texture). Cook until the pork belly/pancetta is crispy and browned like bacon.

8.   Stir the soffritto and pork belly/pancetta together and then make a second, larger clearing in the center of the pan.

9.   Now add the ground beef and cook until it is completely cooked and browned. By the time the ground beef is done most of the juices will have evaporated.

10.   While the ground beef is cooking, add your red wine to a small pot. Over low heat “cook” the wine for about 5-10 minutes. Simmering over lower heat is better but takes a bit longer. This will de-alcoholize the wine, (removing the carbs in the alcohol content) and leave the rich wine flavor which is necessary to flavor this sauce and give it an authentic Italian taste.

11.   When the ground beef in thoroughly cooked, stir all the ingredients together and cook for 2 minutes before adding anything else.

12.   Next, add the pureed tomatoes, water, wine and Worcestershire sauce, stir everything together.

13.   Put a lid on the pot and continue cooking on low heat for about 2-3 hours, stirring and checking for water evaporation periodically. Add more water if necessary. By the time it is done your water should have been reduced by less than a quarter. Your total yield should be about 2400 g when done. NOTE: Last addition of water should not be less than a half h

Adding the cream

14.   When your Bolognese sauce is done, turn off the heat and let stand for about 10 minutes before adding the cream. Stir the cream into the sauce as you are pouring it so that the cream does not cook. This will lighten the color of the sauce but adds a rich creamy texture to the final sauce.

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