Everyday Bolognese


This is Jennifer Garner’s go-to for a crowd. I approach Bolognese as I do soup: make a lot at one time. The classic beef and tomato ragù freezes well and knows no end—from a topping for spaghetti or polenta to a base for wilted greens.

Makes about 3 quarts

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, diced

2 carrots, grated

4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

2 pounds ground beef

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried marjoram

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 cup dry red wine

2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or marjoram

1.     Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until sizzling hot and add the onions. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the onions are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to cook, stirring, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring often, 1 minute more.

2.     And add the beef, breaking it up as it cooks, and season with salt and pepper. Add the dried oregano, dried marjoram and dried basil and cook, stirring, until the beef is cooked on the outside but still slightly pink inside, 4 to 5 minutes more.

3.     Add the balsamic vinegar and wine and cook to reduce slightly, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to combine. Stir in the broth and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the flavors meld, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil and oregano before serving.

Sidebar: In the Kitchen

Today, it’s more common to see Bolognese in Bologna, Italy without milk. But traditionally, it was added to enrich the texture. To make your own velvety version, simply stir 1 cup whole milk into the sauce at the end of cooking.

Sidebar: On the Menu

You need not hail from Bologna to use Bolognese everyday—or often, at least. The sauce has dozens of uses:

·      Layered between noodles in my sister Judy’s Lasagna

·      Served on a thick slice of Rustic Toast with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

·      Atop baked potatoes with grated Pecorino and scallions

·      Paired with Creamy Polenta