In the heart of NYC's Little Italy is a great little eatery, Amici II. It's a little gem in a sea of Italian food- and their bolognese is the best I have ever tasted. I wanted to recreate the taste so I turned to.....you guessed it......Cook's Illustrated. This is their Classic Bolognese Sauce.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons minced onion
4 tablespoons minced carrot
4 tablespoons minced celery
1/2 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork
2 cups whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
2 cans whole tomatoes (28 oz.) , packed in juice, chopped fine, with juice reserved
Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot, and celery and sautè until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes.
Add ground meat and 1 teaspoon salt; crumble meat with edge of spatula to break apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.
Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 30 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 30 minutes longer.
Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with an occasional bubble or two at the surface, until liquid has evaporated, about 4 hours. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste and serve. When draining the pasta, leave some water on the noodles- and add a couple of tablespoons of butter to the draining noodles- this, in addition to some parmesan cheese on top of the sauce, will help the sauce coat the pasta noodles.
As you can see, it's easy- just time consuming. You add liquid three times and wait for it to be absorbed each time. I think the secret to the Amici's taste I was looking for was simmering the meat in milk. This isn't kosher Italian, folks. But it is wonderful- the flavors of the tender flavor infused crumbly meat do the talking. The recipe above is doubled- if you halve it, simmer each time for 10-15 minutes instead of 30, and after the tomatoes simmer for 3 hours instead of 4. You know how pasta sauce is always better after being frozen? That's precisely why I doubled it, to have even better sauce in a couple of weeks with another box of fettucine. That is if I can wait a couple of weeks for another pranzo squisito...and the eggs.