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Lamb Bolognese

Lamb Bolognese

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Makes 6 to 8 cups.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a recipe in a restaurant trade journal.

Classic Bolognese sauce is made with ground beef and is credited to the Bologna region of Italy. It is also known as a ragu, chunky with meat and diced vegetables. This recipe uses ground lamb and ground pork for a slightly different flavor.


As needed: pure (not extra virgin) olive oil for frying
2 pounds (900g) ground lamb
1 pound (450g) ground pork
1 medium (10 ounces/310g) onion
1 medium (4 ounces/113g) carrot, peeled
1 stalk celery (3 to 4 ounces/85 to 113g), diced
10 garlic cloves, minced
Optional: 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup (243ml) dry red wine
1 28-ounce (800g) can San Marzano (or other canned Roma) tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter
12 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
¾ cup (85g) grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and add the ground meat. Cook over medium-high heat until any liquid evaporates and the meat browns lightly.

While the meat is cooking, dice the onion, celery, and carrot. Then add to the browned meat and cook 5 to 6 minutes to sweat the vegetables, releasing their flavors. Add the garlic, optional red chile flakes, oregano, and tomato paste. Stir and cook an additional minute or two.

Add the wine and cook to reduce the liquid by about 2/3 its volume. Add the canned tomatoes with any purée and/or juice in the can. Add the bay leaf. Stir to combine and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 2 hours, checking and stirring every 30 minutes to make certain the sauce doesn’t become too dry. A little water or stock can be added to increase the moisture, if necessary. The sauce can be thickened by cooking for an additional 30 minutes with the lid off. At this point it can be adjusted for salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool about 10 to 15 minutes. Then stir the butter into the sauce. Meanwhile, prepare the basil by tearing the leaves into small pieces with your fingers.

Add the basil and stir again. Finally, add about ½ cup (60g) of the grated cheese and stir lightly. (Avoid stirring too much, as the cheese could become stringy.) Reserve the remaining cheese for garnish when serving. Cook any pasta of your choice and serve with this Bolognese sauce.