Monday, June 9, 2014

Blogger Party 2014 - Bolognese Sauce

As you may recall, the theme for this years party was an East Tennessee Italian Fest and the menu was built around a pasta bar thanks to the suggestion from Dave Scott.  My primary contribution to this effort was a Bolonese Sauce using the recipe from Ann Burrell, which I had last made four years ago.

The sauce takes about five hours to make and is based on a philosophy of slowly enriching it with layers of flavor.

Bolonese Ala Ann Burrell

2 large onions, cut into 1-inch dice
4 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
8 cloves garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
Kosher salt
6 pounds ground chuck
4 cups tomato paste
6 cups hearty red wine (2 bottles)
6 bay leaves
2 bunches thyme, tied in a bundle
High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing

1. In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes. Be patient, this is where the big flavors develop.
2. Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. BROWN THE BEEF! Brown food tastes good. Don't rush this step. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don't be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. This is where big rich flavors develop. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and TASTE frequently. Season with salt, if needed (you probably will). 

5. Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Notes: I made a double batch so all of my times up to the simmering process took longer.  The last hour,  I added some oregano, thyme, black pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.  I made it Wednesday before the Saturday event then skimmed the fat and reheated it in the crockpot.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


6/5/14 event date


  1. thank you for sharing! It looks fantastic! I am definitely going to make a batch!!

  2. Mmmm. It looks and sounds fantastic! I bet it was a big hit with everyone at the party.

  3. Larry, The sauce was very good for sure! Lots of effort on your part...much appreciated by those of us who were lucky enough to partake in the largesse offered at the blogger party! Thanks and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  4. Larry, you sauce was fantastic and so was the dock party you and Bev and Chris held. Thank you all for everything you did to make the party such a big success.

  5. Now that sounds like an excellent recipe and I am sure it was amazing!

  6. Gosh this sauce looks amazing. I can almost smell it - yum! Beautiful

  7. The wine isn't for drinking while the sauce cooks down?

    1. Fortunately, we had a different one to drink on. I used this Syrah as it was the only thing I had two bottles of.

  8. I always brown my meat first, and then rinse to wash away the fat. 3 times in cold water. This is very similar to my sauce, except I only cook about an hour. I just don't love red sauce or pasta enough to dedicate a day to it. Heresy, I know, but there it is. I hope you all had a great party!

  9. That sauce looks GREAT.... Wish we could have been there to partake!!!!!! I can close my eyes and think I'm getting to taste it..... BUT--for some reason, it doesn't taste as good just thinking about it... ha ha

  10. Oh my gosh, I love a good bolognese sauce! I hate that we missed the get together. We went to see Widespread Panic at the Riverbend Festival, which was fun, but there wasn't any bolognese sauce!

  11. Your sauce was amazing, as was the whole party. All of you outdid yourselves this year and we are so lucky to have such gracious hosts as you, Bev, Pat, Chris and Alexis, and Dave and Jackie. Bloggers know how to share food, fun and hospitality. Thanks Larry

  12. All that slow simmering really pays off. I can imagine that your sauce was delicious. Sorry I missed the party.

  13. Oh My, your Bolognese sauce looks so rich and meaty. I can almost taste it.


  14. Ann Burrell makes the funniest noises while cooking. She know her stuff and this sounds great.

  15. I can only imagine how good that tasted. I've done a long simmer sauce only once, and it was so worth the fuss.


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