Bryan and I had our first “married” Christmas this year. For Christmas Eve, I wanted to make a special dinner for us, one that would pair well with a fantastic red wine and would fill our house with a delicious, wintry dinner aroma.
Since Bryan is half-Italian and he was spending his first Christmas with me down in L.A., I looked through my favorite Italian cookbook: Giada de Laurentiis‘ Everyday Italian. I found her recipe for Bolognese, which I had made before to my husband’s great delight. While her recipe calls for ground beef, I find the flavor too heavy and instead decided to make it with veal. So our Christmas Eve dinner was settled: Veal Bolognese with Pappardelle Noodles. It was an absolutely wonderful dinner, and even better on Christmas night when I re-purposed the sauce for chicken sausage ravioli. Seriously delicious.
Here’s how you make the Veal Bolognese:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 celery stalks, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and minced
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 8 basil leaves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 package Pappardelle (flat+wide) noodles
In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is very tender, about 8 minutes. I actually set my oven timer to help keep my timing on track. Add the celery and carrot and saute for 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the ground veal, and saute until the meat is no longer pink, breaking up any large lumps, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil and 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper, and cook over medium-low until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Stir in the cheese, then season with more salt and pepper to taste. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over a medium flame before using.
In a separate pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil to the water (the salt will help season the pasta and the oil will prevent it from sticking together). Drop in the Pappardelle noodles and stir consistently to keep the noodles from sticking to one another. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 6-8 minutes. Drain the noodles, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid. Add the liquid to the Bolognese and bring to a simmer, helping to thicken the sauce even more.
Place the noodles in a serving bowl. Top with your desired amount of Bolognese and gently toss until the noodles are coated. Top with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese and serve. Enjoy!