Chef Barbara Lynch recently made a baked lasagne with butcher shop bolognese for a dinner at Pasta Flyer in New York City. She made the sauce with our ground beef, pork, and lamb. It was so good we asked for the recipe, which she agreed to share with us — and you — here.
Barbara Lynch learned a lot of what she knows about Italian cooking from her first trip to Italy. In her 20s, she went with her friend Sarah Jenkins to visit Sarah’s family at their home-away-from-home in Teverina (and cook for Sarah’s wedding!). A woman named Mita who helped maintain the property showed Barbara some of her family recipes including focaccia with chestnuts, gnocchi, and this bolognese sauce which incorporates chicken livers for richness. These are still some of Barbara’s favorite recipes more than 30 years later, and always transport her back to Italy with their “taste of place.”
This bolognese comes from Barbara Lynch’s cookbook, Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It’s a creamy and rich meat sauce she served over homemade tagliatelle and gnocchi at her Boston restaurant, The Butcher Shop. In the book, she writes: “Extremely easy to make, its “secret” ingredient is chicken livers. You don’t have to tell anyone about those livers; while they add an amazing depth of flavor, there’s nothing liver-y about this Bolognese-style sauce.
Though the sauce would still be quite delicious using one or two of the ground meats listed in the ingredient list, it tastes best with all three; the lamb especially gives it character. This recipe makes enough sauce for two pounds of pasta; it’s also easily doubled and freezes well.”
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 5 ounces chicken livers, trimmed and finely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh sage
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ pounds ground meat, preferably ½ pound each of veal, pork, and lamb
- 1½ cups dry red wine
- 1½ cups chicken broth or beef broth
- 1 – 14½-ounce can (1½ cups) chopped canned tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- ½ cup heavy cream, or more to taste (optional)
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat the oil in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken livers and sage, season with a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the livers lose their red color, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the ground meat in batches, letting it brown a little before adding more. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring, until no red or pink color remains. Pour off most of the fat. Add the wine, increase the heat to high, and boil, stirring occasionally to break up any clumps of meat, until the wine is almost gone, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, and basil. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer; you should see an occasional bubble but not a boil. Cook, uncovered, until the sauce is thick, dark, and rich, for at least 1 hour. (You can keep cooking it longer over low heat, and it will only get better.) Stir in the cream, if using, and simmer for at least another 10 minutes to heat it through; longer is fine.
Serve the sauce over pasta, topped with freshly ground pepper and grated Parmesan.
This sauce will keep for a couple days in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap and freezes beautifully, too. If going right from the hot pot to the freezer, cool the sauce first by putting it in a bowl set over an ice bath in the sink (stir it occasionally) before storing in an airtight container.