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Spices & Herbs
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Dark Bolognese Sauce with Wild Mushrooms
Slofoodgroup Team April 26, 2023
The Absolute Best Bolognese Sauce with a Secret Ingredient
What makes a great bolognese sauce? Ask any chef, home cook, or culinary enthusiast and each of them will likely give you a different answer. Traditionally, bolognese includes a combination of ground meats—typically pork or beef and some fattier cured varieties like bacon or pancetta. A soffritto is also used to create the base and combined with tomatoes, whether diced, reduced, roasted, pureed or any combination of the aforementioned. Surprisingly, most bolognese sauces will incorporate a bit of milk or cream as well.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with traditional varieties of this meat-based sauce but we thought we could make it a little more decadent with added layers of richness and flavor. To add to the texture and flavor of the ground meats, we cooked them with minced cremini mushrooms. We also incorporated two types of dehydrated wild mushrooms—black trumpet and morels. Additionally, we wanted our sauce to be dark and rich, rather than bright and tangy, so we roasted our tomatoes prior to adding them and slow cooked the sauce in a mushroom infused beef broth.
We didn’t stop there, though. Every great recipe requires a secret ingredient. Ours has several. Instead of using milk or cream, we opted for mascarpone, which mellowed the sauce and added a slight bit of sweetness. For additional sweetness and a touch of smokiness, we diced a roasted red pepper to add to the sauce. We also took a short cut, using a packet of onion soup mix, which contributed loads of flavor and helped to thicken the sauce. Finally, we included a few aromatics via a spice sachet—cloves, bay, and star anise.
How to Make a Thick, Dark Bolognese with Mushrooms, Beef, and Pork
- 1 ½ ounces dehydrated morel mushrooms
- 1 ounces dehydrated black trumpet mushrooms
- 3 cups beef bone broth
- 4 vine-ripened tomatoes
- 1 bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced into quarters
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 celery stock, diced
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground beef
- 4 ounces diced cremini mushrooms
- 4 ounces chopped pancetta
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ tablespoon fresh, chopped oregano
- ½ tablespoon fresh, chopped basil
- ½ teaspoon fresh-crushed black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 2-ounce packet gluten-free onion soup mix
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup marsala cooking wine
- 1 star anise, 1 bay leaf, and 3 cloves in a spice sachet
- 6 ounces mascarpone
- Sea salt to taste
- Soak your dehydrated mushrooms in beef broth for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the bell pepper and tomatoes on a sheet pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast for 25 minutes.
- Make an Italian soffritto by combining your carrots, onions, and celery and placing them in a hot saucepan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent.
- Add the ground pork, ground beef, and fresh mushrooms to the pan and brown.
- Mix in the pancetta, onion soup mix, tomato paste, basil, garlic, oregano, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce
- Stir in the rehydrated mushrooms, beef broth, and marsala, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to pull up any fond.
- Chop the roasted tomatoes and bell peppers and add them to the saucepan.
- Drop your spice sachet in and ensure it is submerged.
- Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes
- Remove the lid and turn the heat up slightly. Stirring occasionally, cook for 45 more minutes.
- Remove the spice sachet.
- Stir the mascarpone into the sauce until it is fully incorporated.
- Finish with sea salt.