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Bolognese with Barolo and Black Pepper Sauce

A good red wine adds depth of flavor to this mouth-watering classic pasta dish.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 1/2 pound pancetta or guanciale, cut into small dice

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 1/2 pounds coarsely ground beef chuck

  • Coarse black pepper

  • Kosher or sea salt

  • A couple of sprigs each of rosemary, sage, thyme, tied into a bundle

  • 1 fresh bay leaf

  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1-2 small ribs celery, finely chopped

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 1/2 cups Barolo or other dry red wine

  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (28-32 ounces)

  • 2 cans beef consommé

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 pound pappardelle or bucatini pasta

  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (for a nutty flavor) or Pecorino cheese (for a tangy flavor), for topping


Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with the EVOO, two turns of the pan. Add the pancetta or guanciale and brown to crisp; remove and drain. Melt the butter in the pan; pat the meat dry and add it to the pan. Brown well; season liberally with coarse black pepper and a little salt. Add the herb bundle and the bay leaf, carrot, celery, onion and garlic. Stir to soften a few minutes; add the tomato paste and stir until fragrant. Add the wine to deglaze and reduce by half. Add the tomatoes and consommé. Break up the tomatoes a bit, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes to break down the tomatoes. Stir in the milk and simmer for 20-30 minutes more over low heat while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water before draining the pasta.

Combine the starchy cooking water with the sauce and pasta. Serve in shallow bowls and top with cheese.

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