There are many variations for what is known as Bolognese sauce, and every Italian American home usually has its own.
Felicia Ciaramitaro Mohan’s version is typical. In her home, as in most other Italian American homes that take their Italian food seriously, it is a staple sauce, especially for the traditional Sunday dinners.
Felicia says that the best way to think of this sauce is as “a meat sauce, it is thick and not juicy.” There are two types of meat — ground hamburger and ground veal — but relatively little tomato sauce.
“I use it as the stuffing along with some peas for my arancini,” she says. “It is almost always served on pasta for Sunday dinner as well.”
Bolognese sauce received its name from where some say it originated, Bologna, Italy. In Bologna, the sauce is known as “ragù alla Bolognese” or simply as “ragu,” not to be confused with the commercial sauce of that name. The original recipe calls for beef, pancetta (an Italian bacon), onions, carrot, celery, tomato sauce or tomato paste, meat broth, either red or white dry wine, milk, salt and pepper. An optional ingredient is a small amount of cream added at the end.
As you can see from Felicia’s recipe, there are many variations but the basis of it being a meat sauce remains constant.
5 cloves of crushed garlic
1 large onion coarsely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomato
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
1 pound ground hamburger, cooked and drained well
1 pound ground veal, cooked and drained well
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cover bottom of a sauce pan with good olive oil. Sauté garlic and onion till onion is translucent over medium to high heat. Do not brown.
2. Add crushed tomatoes, hamburger and veal. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste and chopped basil. Cook on medium high heat for 15 minutes, stirring often.
3. Add sugar, continue stirring and cook 5 minutes more.
Serve over your favorite pasta. Garnish with ribbons of basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe courtesy of Felicia Ciaramitaro Mohan, 2012.