Pasta Bolognese with Pancetta and Red Wine

Rich and hearty pasta Bolognese slow simmered with pancetta and red wine. The ultimate comfort food! I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day yesterday. Andrew and I celebrated Valentine’s Day early on Friday night with reservations at the amazing June restaurant in Peoria Heights. Even though we had already celebrated, I just couldn’t let the day go by without making a delicious dinner for the two of us.

One of my favorite comfort foods is spaghetti and meat sauce, however, creating a delicious sauce is sometimes a labor of love. I thought what better day to make this glorious slow simmered dinner than for Valentines Day! Despite the long simmering time, this recipe is actually really easy, requiring very little actual hands on time. The result is definitely worth the wait-a rich, thick, and complex flavored meat sauce worthy of a special occasion.

Pasta Bolognese with Pancetta and Red Wine

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours and 45 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours


5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons minced carrot
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 ounces pancetta, minced
3/4 pound ground beef chuck
Table salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup red wine
1 (28 ounces) can diced tomatoes, juice reserved
1 pound fettuccine pasta dried
Parmesan cheese , grated, for serving


In a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat melt butter; add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and pancetta and sautè until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add ground meat and 1/2 teaspoon salt;
Crumble the meat with the edge of a wooden spoon to break apart into tiny pieces so no clumps remain. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.
Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with an occasional bubble or two at the surface, until liquid has evaporated (wooden spoon should leave trail when dragged through sauce), about 3 hours. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste. Keep sauce warm.
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, leaving some water dripping from noodles. Toss with sauce and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Distribute among individual bowls and serve immediately, passing Parmesan cheese separately.

Source: adapted from Cook's Illustrated, January 1999

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