This bolognese sauce came into my life during the summer of 2002 while I was living in New York City for an internship at YM magazine. Every day after work, I walked from my office on the edge of Madison Square Park to my brother’s apartment on East 22nd for dinner. Most suppers were uneventful and consisted of boxed macaroni and cheese, or something equally processed and convenient. Sometimes though, when the heat wasn’t too overbearing in his apartment, my brother whipped up something extra special for us to eat. Spaghetti bolognese was a rare treat from that sticky summer in the city.
My brother learned how to prepare this sauce from his friend Anastasia. The secret to its fragrant profile and unique flavor is whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. While it might seem strange mingling warm spices with pork, beef, and tomatoes, it works beyond beautifully in this situation. Two hours of slow and low simmering on the stove top marries all of the flavors together, creating a thick, hearty, and complex brew. One bite and it’ll be obvious that this ain’t your average meat sauce.
- Olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- .75 pounds lean ground beef
- .75 pounds lean ground pork
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
- 1 can tomato sauce (14.5 ounces)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6-8 cloves
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
- Dried spaghetti (1 pound)
- Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Whole cloves are the secret to this sauce’s success. Make sure to fish them out to avoid crunchy bits of bitterness. Same with the cinnamon sticks.
Next, add the chopped onions into the pot and saute until slightly softened and translucent, about five minutes. Season with salt while sauteing, approximately 1/2 teaspoon.
Right before serving, add in fresh parsley to the sauce and incorporate evenly. Season with additional salt if necessary.
Serve the bolognese atop warm noodles, along with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.