Tag Archives: sauce

It’s Meat Gravy: A No-Nonsense Bolognese Sauce

It’s meat gravy.

That was Andy Baraghani’s summary of his new recipe for BA’s best bolognese. Poetic, right? Andy wanted to develop the simplest version of classic bolognese that delivers exactly what it’s supposed to without any unnecessary bells and whistles. “I was inspired by Marcella Hazan, evenings at Via Carota, my desire for an Italian heritage in my youth, Paul Bertolli, Chez Panisse, Chris Morocco…” The resulting recipe is a meat sauce that, after two hours cook time, turns soft, tender, and velvety. No ingredient outshines another. “The sauce should cling on to noodles, draping and coating each strand,” said Andy. Here’s the bolognese breakdown:

The meat

At first, Andy tried to convince us that the meat should be hand-chopped skirt steak, painstakingly chopped by you. “Lol no,” was the general feedback. “It’s a more interesting cut of meat,” he pleaded, but that homestead aesthetic was not what we were going for this time, and it certainly wasn’t easier that buying ground chunk. We’re going with ground chuck, plus some pancetta for a fuller, meatier final flavor. The chuck gets browned for a few crucial minutes before the low and slow Sunday sauce simmer begins. A NOTE: If cooked on too high a heat, ground beef will turn into a rubber band. That’s why we keep the heat low, and why it takes so damn long to reach that final velvet state.

The tomato paste

NO CANNED TOMATO ZONE. Tomato paste only this time! It adds color, body, and acidity. “Water from canned tomatoes would dilute the flavor and texture,” said Andy. “I don’t want pieces of tomato in my sauce. I want it to be rustica, not fancy.”

The milk and chicken stock and wine

Those are the only liquids we need. The milk adds more fat content, a.k.a. “richness,” and helps the beef achieve that velvety consistency. The stock rounds out the meat flavor and gives the beef something to cook down in without drying out. The wine adds acidity.

The aromatics, featuring carrots

We pulse the aromatics—carrot, onion, celery—in a food processor until they’re practically the same size as the ground meat. That consistency in size keeps one flavor in the sauce from dominating, and we’re especially looking at you, carrots.

The lone bay leaf

That mystery aromatic strikes again.

The pasta

Hot take from Andy here. NO DRIED PAPPARDELLE, or other wide noodles, he insisted. He tried several brands, they all broke too often and caused him immense stress. If you can use fresh pappardelle or tagliatelle, rejoice. If you’re using dry pasta, go with rigatoni. It catches the sauce in its ridges and tube better than anything else. (The Test Kitchen stans De Cecco)

The attitude

“It’s a meat sauce, not a tomato sauce,” Andy reminded me. “People have an idea of what they want bolognese to be, but it’s hard to pinpoint. This recipe is not a restaurant dish. It’s a Sunday sauce. I’m not trying to hurt you. Take a photo, tag me. If you have problems, tag me too.” We’re family now.

Get the recipe:



What Is Worcestershire Sauce, Anyway?

Worcestershire sauce is one of those ingredients that exists in 98 percent of kitchens. Maybe the bottle is brand new. Maybe it’s six years old. But regardless of age, it’s most likely there. Which begs a couple questions: Why do I have this stuff? What do I use it for besides that one recipe I used it in that one time? And what is Worcestershire sauce in the first place?

Well, we could go into the history of the sauce, explaining its English origins, copyright battles over the name, and just how many people have tried to replicate the original recipe. But when it comes to history, the only thing you really need to know is that this sauce was first made by the company Lea & Perrins in Worcestershire, England.

Chicken Pot Pie

And there are about as many ways to incorrectly pronounce Worcestershire as there are ingredients in Worcestershire sauce. It’s a sauce with a tremendous depth of flavor, and all that flavor is the result of many different ingredients being fermented individually, blended, and fermented again. There are some vegan and vegetarian versions of Worcestershire sauce, but for the most part, the regular versions contain the following: Vinegars. Fermented onions. Fermented garlic. Molasses. Tamarind paste. Salt. Sugar. Cured anchovies. And a seasoning mixture that can include spices like coriander, mustard seed, cloves, or pepper, as well as citrus peel.

Yeah: There’s a lot going on in that bottle. And that means there’s a lot of flavor. Worcestershire sauce is really an umami delivery vehicle, a cousin to fish sauce or soy sauce that the family kind of forgot about. And we tend to forget about it, too—but at the end of the day, you can use Worcestershire to add flavor to anything saucy much in the same way you’d use soy or fish sauce.

cabbage lentil soup 1

Photo by Chelsie Craig

Adding some Worcestershire to lentil soup? Pro move.

We’re partial to adding Worcestershire to stocks, broths, and braising liquids to quickly build flavor that could take hours to develop. Whether you’re braising in red wine, dropping vegetables into chicken broth, or even making something creamy like a chowder or a pot pie, the range of flavor in Worcestershire makes it a pretty versatile ingredient. It has umami, acid, and sweetness to offer.

But it also helps in dishes that don’t involves broth, stock, or braising liquid. A few drops of Worcestershire in a vinaigrette or creamy salad dressing take it to a whole new place. And adding the sauce to marinades will add another level of umami to that seared, browned exterior on chicken thighs or pork chops. It’s essential in condiments like cocktail sauce, and a dash in a Bloody Mary is sure to bring you back to life.

If you’re looking for umami and are growing tired of soy, oyster, or fish sauce, give Worcestershire a shot. You might have to rummage through the condiment shelf. Or possibly run out to grab a new bottle. But the flavor it brings to the table will make you wonder why you haven’t been using it more. And maybe even why you never learned to pronounce it. Wuss. Terr. Sherr. You’re welcome.

Speaking of braises, this looks good: