Pappardelle Bolognese – Homemade Bolognese is tossed with a wide-noodle pasta called Pappardelle. it’s the most comforting combination, that is perfect for the cool weather months.
As the weather turns cooler, the food gets more comforting, am I right? I just love hearty soups, slow cooked meats, and pasta dishes during the fall and winter months to bring me comfort as I post up indoors to escape the cold.
Today’s recipe is a new pasta dish to add to your list for the upcoming season – Pappardelle Bolognese. This is just an elevated version of spaghetti and meat sauce. The sauce is super rich and meaty, with just a hint of tomato flavor (no chunks of tomato here!) and the pasta pivots away from spaghetti to a wide-noodle called Pappardelle. It’s on of my favorite noodles of all time and it pairs best with Bolognese.
Not tomato sauce
This meaty sauce – called Bolognese – is a slow-cooked sauce that has vegetables, tomato paste, and beef. The biggest misconception about this sauce is that it has a marinara base. Not the case. It does have a tomato base but it comes from a concentrated tomato paste rather than chunky marinara sauce.
Making the Bolognese
The sauce starts with cooking the beef in large chunks until it’s mostly brown and then remove the beef from the pot. We don’t want to break the beef up into tiny pieces yet. The bigger chunks hold onto their flavor and moisture a little longer so that they release into the sauce, once we add them back later.
The finely diced pancetta then gets added to the empty pot and cooked until crispy. The finely diced veggies are added to cook for about 8 minutes so they start to stick to the pan. This means they has lost most of their moisture, which is what we want.
White wine is added to deglaze the pan. The beef is added back to the pot and broken down into little pieces. It then cooks for a few minutes so the wine can evaporate. Then, the tomato paste, bay leaf, and nutmeg are added and pushed into the beef. Finally, the chicken broth and milk are added and the sauce is left to simmer for a few hours, uncovered.
Finishing off the dish
Once the sauce has cooked for a few hours and turned into a thick consistency, it’s time to make the pasta. A large pot of salted water is brought to a boil. The dry pasta is added to cook until just before al dente. The pasta is then transferred to the sauce, along with 1 cup of pasta water and 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan. It’s left to simmer for 2 more minutes and then seasoned to taste. It’s served immediately.
Tips & Tricks
- Finely diced veggies. It’s important for the veggies to be diced super small so that they create a cohesive sauce. If you have large chunks in the sauce, it will take away from the flavor your trying to create.
- Wide noodles make a difference. I love Pappardelle noodles but had a hard time finding them in stores. You can easily make them at home without a pasta maker – it’s super simple! But if you’d like to buy dry pasta, you can find on Amazon, like I did.
- Low heat. Do not let the heat get too high when slow cooking the sauce. In fact, you want the heat at the lowest setting. This ensures the sauce cooks slowly over 2 hours.
- 1 medium white onion peeled
- 1 medium carrot peeled
- 1 stalk celery
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground chuck 20% fat
- 3 ounces panchetta finely diced
- 1 cup Chardonnay
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 pound pappardelle pasta
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- salt to taste
- Cut onion, carrot, and celery in large chunks. Place into a food processor and pule until finely chopped. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add ground chuck to pan in chunks and a pinch of salt. Stir to cook, without breaking apart the beef, until the beef is browned, but not crispy, about 6 minutes. It's okay if the beef is still pink inside. It will finish cooking later. Drain beef and set aside. Wipe the inside of the Dutch oven to remove excess fat.
- Cook pancetta in pot over medium heat (no need to add extra oil because the pancetta fat will render as it cooks), until the pancetta starts to turn crispy but doesn't burn, about 8 minutes. Add onion-celery-carrot mixture to the pan and cook until the mixture starts to stick to the pan, about 8 minutes.
- Use wine to deglaze the pan and release browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Add the beef and start breaking apart the beef into tiny pieces, using a wooden spoon. Cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 12 minutes.
- Add in tomato paste, bay leaf, and nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes, making sure to press the paste into the beef and stir around. Pour in chicken broth and milk. Stir together. Reduce heat to the lowest setting on your smallest burner. You want it to be barely simmering.
- Leave uncovered to cook for 2-2½ hours, or until a thick consitency in the sauce is reached. if this happens before 2 hours, add ½ cup more chicken broth so that sauce keeps cooking and developing it's flavor. Discard bay leaf when complete and keep heat on.
- Set a large pot of salted water to boil and cook paste a little before al dente (2 minutes less than package instructions). Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the sauce pot with about 1 cup of pasta water and ½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir together and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes. Give it a taste and add salt, if needed. Serve immediately.