4 strips meaty bacon
8 oz cremini mushrooms, cut into large chunks
1 t olive oil, optional
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into pieces
4 garlic cloves minced
1/2 lb ground lean beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 (28 oz can whole peeled Italian plum tomatoes, crushed by hand, shoulders removed
1 rounded t dried thyme
1/4 t dried Mediterranean oregano
1/4 t dried garlic
1 pinch of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of salt (you may add when you taste but you can’t take it out!)
1/4 cup milk
Spoon Mage™ Notes:
Meaty bacon is preferred. How much fat remains after crisping the bacon determines whether or not you add olive oil at all. Let your eyes decide about extra oil, don’t just add oil because it is in the ingredient list. The mushrooms will immediately suck up the bacon fat and yes, the pan will look dry then, but aha! Notice how as the mushrooms start to brown they exude some of that bacon grease. If they don’t give any back to the skillet and it is dry, add a bit of olive oil.
Divide each one pound package each of lean ground sirloin (at least 93% lean) and pork. Take a half of beef and one of pork. Set them aside for today’s Bolognese. Put the other two halves into one freezer bags.. Now the next time you are ready for either Bolognese or great meatballs you’ve the perfect meats in the freezer! Seriously mindful.
I always use Cento tomatoes. They really are best and you rarely find tomato shoulders that need to be discarded. I’m not a fan of the San Marzano tomato, but if you prefer the mild flavor, Cento has that as well. In the Bolognese, just a touch of milk is added as the final ingredient. It’s not there to cream the sauce. It is there to impact the flavor of the tomatoes, reducing acidity, and mellow things a little. When you add milk the sauce lightens in color a little, but soon it all becomes a beautiful deep red.
Prep all the ingredients and set them aside in order of appearance. Leave the milk in the fridge.
Set a large skillet or wide Dutch oven with tall sides over medium heat. Add the bacon strips. Fry over medium, turning every few minutes, until they are a beautiful golden brown and the strips are firm when you turn them. Remove the bacon and set aside on paper towels to cool.
Raise the temperature up to medium high, wait 30 seconds, and tip in the cremini mushrooms. Stir until they start to exude their liquids. Soon they will begin to brown – this is the time to reduce how often you stir so as to allow the bacon to sit in hot fat to brown. If your bacon was insufficiently fatty, the browning time is where you can add a bit of olive oil a teaspoon is just enough to encourage the mushrooms to brown.
Add the onion and carrot pieces. Stir every now and then until the onions soften.
The bacon slices are likely cool, so crumble them a bit. 1/4 inch pieces will be fine. Place the bits inside a small bowl until they are needed for the sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium and scrape the garlic into the skillet. Stir constantly for 1 minute.
Add both the beef and pork, stir a bit until the meats lose their raw pink color.. When they look browned through check the fat in the pan. You need about 3-4 tablespoons of fat to remain in the pot. If your meat was fatty you may have to spoon out a bit. Do not drain all of the fat as it will not help the Bolognese at all.
Add the tomatoes, the crumbled bacon, thyme, oregano, and nutmeg.
Reduce heat to medium low and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add the milk. Stir frequently and watch as the color of the sauce deepens. Isn’t it beautiful! Taste after 30 minutes and adjust the seasonings. Sometimes I add more salt. Other times I add more pepper.
You can simmer the sauce for another 30 minutes to an hour and it will be perfect for any pasta with twirls or whirls or good solid sides to hold the sauce.
I add hot red pepper flakes and pecorino Romano cheese at the table. That is my preference, but you may like to top your pasta with different cheese and that is just fine.