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1.20.15 Pork and Fennel Bolognese Sauce

1.20.15 Pork and Fennel Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese sauce is one of those dishes that always makes me happy. It’s hearty and delicious, and is basically the epitome of comfort food. Sure, it takes some time to make, but after putting in a couple of hours to make a big bubbling pot of the stuff, I can say I’ve never been disappointed by the result. And let’s be honest, this time of year, a rich meaty sauce is just the sort of thing we all need. Plus, the added bonus of the aroma this sort of slow cooked sauce is going to impart to your kitchen alone is worth it.


While most bolognese sauce is made with beef, or a mix of beef and pork, this version is all pork. Wanting to add a healthy dose of fennel to my sauce, I figured (rightly so) that pork would be a good compliment. Besides, pork is delicious. Add some lovely aromatics, fresh tomatoes, and white wine, and you’ve got yourself one tasty sauce.

Making this sauce is one of my favorite ways to spend a lazy winter weekend evening. I’ll slow cook away, enjoying the delicious aroma while watching Godfather movies with a glass of wine. Once the sauce is ready, I’ll devour it in a semi-ridiculous quantity atop pasta with plenty of parmesan cheese. And more wine. It doesn’t get much better than that.


Pork and Fennel Bolognese Sauce

serves 4-5

If you end up with leftover sauce, never fear. In fact, lucky you! I recently discovered that if you use bolognese as pizza sauce, you will end up with quite possibly the best pizza ever. Just spread the sauce evenly over your crust, top with some fresh mozzarella, and bake. You’ll end up with one amazing, deliciously messy pie.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 lb roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14.5 oz can chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Cooked linguine or fettuccine pasta and grated parmesan cheese for serving

1. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil, then add the ground pork and cook, breaking apart with a spoon, until no longer pink. Remove from pot and set aside.

2. Add the chopped bacon to the pot and cook until the pieces are just beginning to crisp up.

3. Add the celery, carrots, onion, fennel, garlic, crushed red pepper, fennel seed, salt, and pepper, and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes, and continue cooking until tomatoes soften and begin to break down, another 5-6 minutes.

5. Add the pork you browned in step 1 back to the pot, along with the tomato paste and give everything a good stir to mix it together.

6. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the chicken broth, whole milk, and balsamic vinegar, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until sauce is rich and thick, about 1 ½ -2 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Serve sauce atop freshly cooked pasta, with a generous sprinkle of parmesan.

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