Thursday, September 9, 2021

Bolognese With Red Lentil Pasta

I ask Bev what she would like to eat over the next few days and she said she was having cravings for pasta and would like Bolognese sauce over angel hair.  It should not be confused with meat sauce which is basically marinara with meat in it while Bolognese has only a little tomato via tomato paste.  Our favorite version has been using the recipe from Ann Burrell but since it takes about six hours to make, I opted to try a different one.  The recipe I picked was the Best Bolognese Sauce from Bon Appetit.  I made a couple of changes by substituting bacon for pancetta and red for white wine then I added garlic and doubled the recipe to get the one below – wanted leftovers.  The original can be found by clicking on the above link.

Best Bolognese SauceAdapted from Bon Appetit

The Ingredients:

2 medium onions, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 small carrots, peeled, chopped

6 garlic cloves

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 lb. ground beef chuck (20% fat), patted dry

Kosher salt

6 oz. bacon, small dice

2 cup dry red wine

2/3 cup tomato paste

2 bay leaf

Pinch of finely grated nutmeg

4 cups (or more) homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp Italian seasoning – added by Larry

4 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup), plus more for serving

1 lb. string pasta  - see note

Note: Since we have a daughter and good friend with gluten issues, we decided to give red lentil pasta a try.

 The Directions:

1. Pulse onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in a food processor until very finely chopped and set aside. 

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium. Break beef into small clumps (about 1½") and add to pot; season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally but not breaking meat apart, until beef is lightly browned but not crisp, 6–8 minutes. It may be gray in spots (that’s okay!) and still a little pink in the center. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a medium bowl.

3. Wipe out pot. Cook bacon in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until pancetta has released some of its fat and is crisp, 6–8 minutes. 

4. Add onion mixture to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and beginning to stick to surface, 6–8 minutes.

6. Return beef to pot and pour in wine. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, smashing down on beef with a wooden spoon, until wine is evaporated, surface of pot is almost dry, and meat is finely ground, 12–15 minutes. (The meat should be reduced to what looks like little bits. It takes a bit of effort, but you can take breaks.)

7. Add tomato paste, bay leaf, and nutmeg and cook, stirring occasionally and still pressing down on meat, until tomato paste is slightly darkened, about 5 minutes.

8. Pour stock and milk into pot; add a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until meat is very, very tender, 2–2½ hours. There shouldn’t be any rapid bubbles at this stage. Instead, the sauce should release the occasional small bubble or two. When finished, the sauce should have the texture of and look like a sloppy joe mixture. If the liquid reduces before the meat is completely tender, add an extra ½ cup stock and continue cooking. 

9. Discard bay leaf. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning with salt; keep warm.

10. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water to al dente. Drain and return to cooking pot - note it is still pink.

11. Stir two cups of the sauce and ½ cup grated Parmesan into the pasta and mix well.

12. Plate and top with more sauce as desired and additional Parmesan.

The Verdict:

I thought our amended sauce was very good but Bev said she preferred the Burrell version for a greater depth of flavor and I agree with that so I'll spend the extra time to make it next time.  Since we have some friends and family with gluten issues, we decided to try the lentil pasta but I didn’t care for it mostly for the texture as it would not get past the al dente+ stage and we like ours a little softer.  We’ll give the spinach version a try next.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


9/05/21 event date


  1. What a healthy delicious alternative with lentils!

  2. Larry, Looks good to me! Thanks for the explanation re: Bolognese sauce vs the standard meat sauce. I'd never really thought about it but of course I have had both versions. We'll stick with the usual pasta as we prefer our pasta to progress a little past the al dente stage too. Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  3. I've got a bolognese sauce from Culinary School that I've been wanting to make. It too was a long process and very good. We were taught to serve it with homemade spinach lasagna noodles. You've inspired me to stop procrastinating.

  4. It looks and sounds tasty to me. I haven't had bolognese for far too long.


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