Ragu Bolognese with Pappardelle: Not Your Typical Chef Boyardee

Spaghetti and meat sauce is one of those classic dishes that everyone loves; it's simple and satisfying. I wanted to change things up a bit, so I used pappardelle instead of spaghetti. These flat, wide pasta ribbons complement the meaty richness of the sauce very well. I find it so mysterious how virtually all pasta is made of the same ingredients, yet different shapes somehow manage to taste different. If you can't find pappardelle, you can always slice some fresh lasagne sheets into wide strips instead.

The recipe below does look a bit intimidating; there are tons of ingredients and long cooking times. But there's a difference between a time consuming recipe and a difficult one. All you do is chop ingredients and open cans, then you can pretty much forget about it and the stove does the rest of the work. On top of this, you get to appear very domestic as there's something quite homey and impresive about a big pot bubbling on the stove for a few hours.

With all the work that the recipe calls for, I will admit that I was expecting something that tastes knock-your-sock-off incredible. Don't expect that from this recipe. It pretty much tastes like meat sauce is supposed to taste. This isn't to say that it isn't delicious, but bolognese sauce is about subtle but complex and harmonious flavours. This is why it needs to bubble on the stove for so long. The fragrance of the herbs, vegetables and wine combine with the meatiness of the pancetta, the sharpness of the tomatoes, and the butteriness of the cream. The recipe makes a very nicely balanced sauce which tastes about a thousand times better than anything out of a can. And with some of the leftovers parked in the freezer, future pasta dinners are almost just as easy.

Fun Fact: Unlike Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker, Chef Boyardee is a real person (Mr. Ettore Boiardi)...

Spaghetti Bolognese

Serves 6-8


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt (add at the end...bacon is already quite salty)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground veal
  • 1/2 pound pork sausage, removed from the casings, or ground pork (I used ground turkey instead)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock or broth
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I omitted this; the sauce is plenty rich)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beef and sausages, and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, beef broth, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the cream, butter, and parsley, stir well, and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return the water to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and toss to blend. Divide among pasta bowls and serve with the cheese passed tableside. (Alternatively, toss only the desired portion of pasta with a bit of the sauce at a time in a serving bowl, reserving the remainder for another meal.)

Source: Food Network and Emeril Live
Image property of beets and bites

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