I have had a long love affair with Italian cooking. If you read My Paleo Story , you’ll know that I’ve been enamoured with Italian flavours and recipes since childhood. A bowl of penne pomodoro was the first dish I ever learned to cook by watching a chef on television. For a while after that, Italian food was all I ever cooked. I was convinced that the true test of any great chef was their bolognese sauce.

Bolognese is a flavourful meat sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy – as the name implies. If you ask anyone in Bologna who makes the best bolognese, the answer will undoubtedly be “my mother.” Or better yet, “my nonna” (grandma). The best bolognese I have ever eaten was at Locanda del Gallese, a tiny restaurant in an even tinier town called Biassa, just outside of Cinque Terre in the north west of Italy. My girlfriend and I stayed in Biassa while we were backpacking through western Europe in 2008. We wanted to hike the Cinque Terre coast and Biassa offered  cheaper accommodations at Ostello Tramonti. As an aside, Biassa in general is a beautiful sleepy town that I highly recommend if you are looking for a more romantic destination that is off of the beaten, tourist path. It’s nestled in the hillside and offers some breathtaking views. Back to the food though, it wasn’t called a bolognese on the menu because we weren’t in Bologna. It was a ragu (same, same but different!) It was unlike anything I had ever eaten. It bursted with earthy notes from the fresh thyme that was added to the sauce. It was a deep, rich, red colour. The meat melted in your mouth. The dish was a pure triumph. It was heavenly! I have been trying to recreate it ever since. Sometimes I’ve come closer than others. You see, in Italy, recipes like bolognese are passed from generation to generation. What then, was a little boy from Toronto, raised by Russian immigrants with no idea of what bolognese even was, supposed to do when he wanted to learn the art of this classic Italian comfort food? Indeed, my babushka had also never even heard of bolognese the first time I made it for her and my grandpa.

I learned the same way I learned just about everything to do with cooking – I studied it from my idols on TV. I watched the great Italian chefs like Mario Battali, Lidia Bastianich, Michael Chiarrelo, and even the American king of everything “Ultimate,” Tyler Florence. I’ve experimented with so many different ways of making Bolognese and have spent the better part of my life trying to perfect it. It is nowhere near perfect! But it is really, really good. The recipe I show you here is a combination of years of trial-and-error, different influences, my personal travels, my Biassa memories, and a new found love of healthy, Paleo food.  It’s packed with tons of deep, rich, delicious flavours that are always a favourite in my house. It’s super easy, healthy and not overcomplicated. This is a rustic, simple dish that will win over anyone, health-conscious or not!

Serve it with some zucchini noodles, or paleo gnocchi and rejoice in all of its Paleo Bolognese glory!

Give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Cheers,

R

Simple and Delicious Paleo Bolognese Recipe

Paleo Bolognese Recipe

 

 

Simple and Delicious Paleo Bolognese Recipe
Simple and Delicious Paleo Bolognese
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Simple and Delicious Paleo Bolognese Recipe
Simple and Delicious Paleo Bolognese
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat a large dutch oven over high heat.
  2. Drizzle a tsp of olive oil in the pot and brown the meat, working in batches. When the meat is browned, transfer it to a bowl and set aside. Continue like this until all of the meat is browned. *Be careful not to overcrowd the pot, otherwise the meat will steam instead of brown.
  3. Discard all but two-three tablespoons of the rendered fat from the pot. Lower the heat to medium and add in a few healthy gluts of olive oil (ap.rox. 3 tbsp), Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. After 30 seconds, add in the anchovies and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add in the onion, garlic and celery, and a pinch of salt. Cook the vegetables for approximately 10-15 minutes over medium heat or until they have softened and the onions are slightly caramelized, but not burnt.
  6. Lower the heat to medium-low and add in the full can of tomato paste. Stir everything to coat thoroughly. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the ground beef back into the pot and stir everything to coat thoroughly.
  8. Add in the chicken stock - just enough to barely cover the top of the beef (approximately 400-500ml.)
  9. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, 2 tbsp of fresh thyme (leaves and stems) and chile flakes (optional and to taste).
  10. Lower the heat to Low, cover the pot with a heavy lid and cook over low heat for at least 60 min, stirring occasionally.
  11. After 60 minutes, taste the Bolognese for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or chile flakes.
  12. Remove from heat and serve with zucchini noodles or paleo gnocchi.
  13. Enjoy!
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