Serves 6 as a main course.
Note: “There are as many variations on ragu Bolognese as there are cooks making it,” writes Matt Jennings in “Homegrown.” “Some use a few different types of meat, including veal, pork, or lamb; others are fortified with chicken livers or prosciutto. For simplicity’s sake, I use ground beef, simmered for a long time in a combination of milk and tomatoes until it becomes a silky, rich sauce.”
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 tbsp. canola oil
• 1/2 c. finely diced yellow onion
• 3/4 c. finely diced celery
• 3/4 c. finely diced carrot
• 1 lb. ground beef chuck
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 c. dry red wine
• 1 1/4 c. whole milk
• Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced San Marzano tomatoes
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 lb. dry or fresh orecchiette, pappardelle or tagliatelle
• Freshly grated Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, for serving
In a medium pot over medium heat, heat the butter and canola oil. When butter has melted, add onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 6 minutes. Add celery and carrot and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Cook the meat, breaking up the large chunks (with a wooden spoon) as it cooks, until beef is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Pour in wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all the wine has evaporated. Pour in the milk, add the nutmeg and bring to a gentle simmer. Add tomatoes and their juices and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so sauce is at a very slow simmer, barely bubbling. Add bay leaf and cook, uncovered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until meat is very tender and sauce is rich and concentrated, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon. If the sauce begins to look too dry, add a bit of water; you don’t want the sauce to break or become too dry, but the goal is a reduced, concentrated sauce, so don’t overwater it.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bolognese can be made ahead; remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature, then transfer to a refrigerator. It will keep for up to 1 week or can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw before using.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When water is boiling, add orecchiette and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add pasta to the pot containing the Bolognese sauce (if you’ve made the sauce in advance, rewarm it gently over low heat before adding the pasta) and stir to combine, adding some of the reserved pasta water to help the sauce cling to the pasta.
Transfer to a platter and garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.