Sausage and Fennel Bolognese

Meat sauces are a gratifying base to a hearty dinner.  The mere slow simmering of the ragu for 2 1/1 hours adds a delicious incense to welcome your guests as the arrive.  You can select from veal, beef, and sausage to create a robust meal for everyone to enjoy.  This recipe focuses on pork but we also have a lamb ragu that is rich and silky.  We create a spicy fennel ragu with herbed ricotta cheese from this sauce but you can use it for just about anything and it  will only benefit with the extra kick from the sausage and red pepper flakes.

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups fennel bulbs, core removed,  chopped to measure then minced
  • 3 cups onions, chopped to measure then minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 celery stocks,  chopped to measure then minced
  • 4 carrots, peeled, chopped to measure then minced
  • 6 thickly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 4 chicken livers
  • 2 pounds of mild ground sausage meat, casings removed
  • 2 pounds of hot ground sausage meat, casings removed
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of full dry white wine
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 28 ounce cans pureed Italian plum tomatoes
  • 2 28 ounce cans whole peeked tomatoes strained

Making It

  • Mince the vegetables, separately, in a food processor fitted with a metal blade
  • Put the prosciutto in the food processor and pulse it 4 times for a rough chop, then add the chicken livers and pulse until they are finely chopped.  Set aside and try not to look at it as it is a gruesome sight.
  • Heat milk in sauce pan to hot but do not let bubble, then keep it warm on low flame
  • Heat the broth and tomatoes in a sauce pan until hot
  • Put the oil in the heavy dutch oven and turn heat to medium high.  Add the onion, fennel and pepper flakes,  cook for 5 minutes until translucent, but of not brown them, stir frequently.  Add the celery and carrot and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the liver/prosciutto mix and cook for 2-3 minutes, leaving it a little pink.  Crumble up the meat and cook in the pot for 5 minutes until it is a little pink
  • Add the wine to the pot and cook it down for 5 minutes or until it evaporates. Don’t be impatient as you do not want a soupy ragu
  • Add the milk and cook until evaporated
  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper, stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook for two minutes.  Then pour in the broth/ tomato sauce to the meat mix and reduce heat to low, cook on low for 3 hours, stirring throughout
One of the staples in the freezer, always ready for a quick pasta dinner or just about anything else.

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