This meat sauce stars the addition of fish sauce. When I first read it, I thought “There is NO way I am adding fish sauce to a bolognese!”
Fear not, it adds a depth of flavor I never would have thought of. It’s not “fishy” tasting at all.
This sauce takes a while, so it’s perfect for a boring winter day.
- olive oil
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 baby carrots, finely chopped
- 12 oz white or cremini mushrooms, chopped (I used shiitake)
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from stems and divided
- ¼ cup fish sauce, divided
- ½ cup tomato paste (I used a can of diced tomatoes. I like chunky sauce)
- salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t add additional salt. The fish sauce adds plenty of saltiness)
- 12 oz pancetta, finely chopped
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1½ cups red or white wine (I used red)
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 6½ cups reduced sodium beef or chicken broth or stock (I used beef)
freshly grated Parmesan to serve
- Drizzle a large cast iron skillet with a little olive oil and place over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, til the veggies soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and a few pinches of salt, and cook til the vegetables soften and begin to caramelize. Remove veggies to a plate. Set aside pan til later use.
- Stir in mushrooms and half the thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add black pepper and a few splashes of fish sauce. Stir in tomato paste (or diced tomatoes); reduce heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile, heat veggie skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, til the fat is rendered but the meat is still a little chewy. Strain, removing fat and meat to separate dishes; set aside.
- Heat a separate skillet over medium-high heat and add the pancetta fat. When pan begins to smoke, add pork. Sear without stirring til the pork is nice and crusty. When the meat is deeply browned but before burning, stir in a couple splashes of fish sauce, cook for a few minutes, and then add a splash of wine. Scrape up the browned bits and empty the meat into a large bowl. Wipe out the pan and repeat the whole process with the beef.
- When the last batch of beef is fully browned, stir in the remaining wine and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits. Slowly boil wine til reduced by half. Return the rest of the meat to the pan. Add the cooked pancetta, the veggies, broth or stock, and the remaining thyme. Drizzle in a little fish sauce.
- Bring sauce to a boil; reduce heat to medium low and simmer 1½ to 2 hours, til the meat is tender and the sauce has a rich, ragù-like texture. Skim off any fat that floats to the top.
- Remove the thyme sprigs and season to taste with a few splashes of fish sauce.
- Serve with pasta (I used spaghetti) and Parmesan cheese.
This is a photograph of the braising of the pancetta. Separating the meat from the rendered oil seems like a lot, but it really contributes to the overall flavor.
Shiitake added in
This is a photograph of when the shiitake mushrooms were stirred into the mixture. I could not find the mushrooms called for in the recipe. The shiitake were perfect!
This is a photograph of the sauteeing of the vegetables step: carrot, onion and garlic. It makes and incredible tasty base for the bolognese and should not be skipped.