My Perfect Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe
As with all of the recipes in the My Perfect series, the intent with my perfect spaghetti Bolognese recipe is not to brag or to argue, but simply to say that this dish has been with our family for many years, and over those years I've put a lot of love and effort into honing it. The My Perfect seal means it's our favorite incarnation of itself, and it's a real keeper.
Grass-fed beef tastes great, tends to be more ethically produced, and has a better nutritional profile than corn-fed.
It's rainy and chilly here in coastal NJ this morning, and I'm so glad. I do adore the moodiness of a nice gray day in its own right, but today I'm just using the chill as an excuse to share what you might consider a slightly unseasonal dish: my perfect spaghetti Bolognese recipe.
Let's be honest: there's never a bad time for a really great bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. But whether the middle of May is the first time you'd think of it? I couldn't speak for you on that front.
I'm 50 percent Italian but like 75 to 80 percent Italian Food. Don't try to do the math, just trust me on this one. Especially where comfort food is concerned, I so often turn to Italian or Italian-American, my OG comfort foods. Spaghetti Bolognese is hearty, rustic food, yet a version this good still feels a little bit refined.
Tips for The Best Spaghetti Bolognese
Use grass-fed ground beef if possible. It's got great flavor and a better nutritional profile.
Embrace a little bit of browning on the bottom of the pot (from cooking the bacon and the veggies). Scrape it all up into the sauce when you add the wine. It adds a lot of flavor.
Tossing a little bit of really good butter (like salted Kerrygold) into the mix when you stir the sauce into the pasta is never a bad idea.
This sauce is great right away but only improves as it sits, so feel free to make it in advance.
For the Bolognese sauce
- 6 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced small
- 2 medium carrots, diced small
- 2 stalks celery, diced small
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 28-ounce can (or 26.4-ounce tetrapack box) strained tomatoes/tomato sauce
- 1 28-ounce can (or 26.4-ounce tetrapack box) chopped tomatoes
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
- Grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Set a heavy 5 1/2-quart pot (this is my favorite) over medium-high heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. If there is more than about two tablespoons of fat at the bottom of the pot, spoon out the rest and discard or save for another use. Add onion, carrot, and celery and continue cooking, stirring from time to time, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook two minutes more.
- Add ground beef, along with one teaspoon of the salt, stirring to break up the meat into small pieces. Cook for about 5 minutes, until beef isn't pink. Stir in wine and simmer for a few minutes, until liquid is reduced by about half. Stir in tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, and remaining teaspoon of salt.
- Cover pot and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer while you cook the spaghetti. Stir in cream and leave pot uncovered for the last few minutes of cooking.
- While the sauce simmers, fill a large, heavy pot halfway with well salted water and bring to a boil. Cook spaghetti al dente according to package instructions. Drain, return pasta to pot, and toss with several ladles of sauce. (Psst...I also sometimes throw in a big pat of really good butter while tossing the spaghetti with the sauce.)
- To serve, plate spaghetti in wide, shallow bowls and top with additional sauce. Pass grated cheese and a pepper mill at the table, along with some flaky sea salt if you like.
Nutritional information for this recipe includes spaghetti.