No, I didn’t clean out the butcher shop and come up with this dish.
But seriously – isn’t that the best name? That’s what I thought when I came across this recipe in Barbara Lynch’s book, Stir.
So, of course I had to make it. As I read through the ingredients I thought it might be a bit of a tough sell around here.
Not because of the chicken livers (more on that in a bit) but because if you asked my family, the bolognese sauce I make (my mom’s recipe known as “spaghetti sauce” ) is in the top 5 of their all time favorite recipes. Competing with that was going to be nothing short of a challenge and one that I was not completely looking forward to -you purists out there know exactly what I am talking about, right?
But forge ahead I did.
The verdict? “Really, really good. But not the same as Grandma’s.”
But that is ok. There is room for more than one bolognese in this household – as I bet there is in yours.
Ok, and the chicken livers? That’s the secret to this sauce according to Lynch. And she is spot on. They add a surprising depth of flavor to the sauce and make this a wonderful dish to serve on a weeknight but also for a casual get together with friends. Paired with a good bottle of red wine , some lightly dressed greens and some good crusty bread, you’ve got an easy and fabulous dinner.
And as Barbara says, the chicken livers will be our little secret, ok?
I followed this recipe almost exactly. If you can find all three meats it is worth the effort - if you can't you can make it with any two of them but the flavor won't be quite the same. The only changes I made were to add salt after the sauce cooked down a bit so that I did not over salt the dish and I also added a large pinch of red pepper flakes. Finally, I used good, San Marzano tomatoes and omitted the cream - the sauce was very rich all on its own!
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 5 oz. chicken livers, trimmed and minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
- 1/2 lb. ground veal
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 1/2 lb. ground lamb
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1 1/2 cups beef stock or chicken stock
- 1 - 141/2 oz. can chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup basil
- 1/2 cup cream (optional)
- freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken livers and sage. Season with pepper and cook, stirring until the livers are no longer red, about 3 minutes.
- In batches, add the ground meat, letting it brown before adding the next batch. Continue cooking until no pink remains.
- Drain off most of the fat and then add the red wine. Bring the mixture up to a boil, stirring to break up the meat and cook until almost all of the wine is gone, about 10 - 15 minutes. Add the stock, tomatoes and basil. Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer (an occasional bubble). Cook, uncovered until the sauce is thick, dark and rich, for at least 1 hour - preferably longer. Stir in the cream, if using and simmer for another 10 minutes or so to heat it through or longer if you prefer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- You can make the sauce up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate. The sauce also freezes beautifully. If freezing, let the sauce cool (put in a metal bowl set into another bowl filled with ice water) before freezing.