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Bobby Flay’s Quick Bolognese Sauce

Bobby Flay’s Quick Bolognese Sauce
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One of New York’s great Celebrity Chefs cuts cooking time on an Italian Classic

Chef Bobby Flay has been one of my favorite New York chefs ever since I worked above his store. That is to say when my office was above Mesa Grill, his tribute to Southwestern cooking on Fifth Avenue and 15th St.  The restaurant was open for 22 years, an impressive run for any restaurant.  It met its demise in 2013, a victim of the greed that’s leaving storefronts empty all over the city.  Fortunately, Bobby moved on. His Gato restaurant at 324 Lafayette Street in NoHo (Tel: (212) 334-6400) is one of Andrew and my favorites, so much so that we look for reasons to celebrate Bobby Flay’s cooking. At Gato, he has both Mediterranean and Spanish dishes on the menu. But in his most recent cookbook, Bobby attributes his love for Italian cooking to having grown up in the city surrounded by great Italian friends and food.

The Genesis for this recipe is the Chef’s wildly popular TV Show

“Beat Bobby Flay” is his very popular series on the Food Network. The premise is that two chefs first compete to take on Bobby in the second half of the show. If you’ve ever tasted Bobby’s food, the outcome of the head to head challenge with Bobby is predictable. He very rarely loses.  Even though the Chef Challenger gets to pick the dish Bobby will have to cook in the 45-minutes allotted.  The Chef who chose Bolognese Sauce as their dish must have not known Bobby’s deep connection to Italian Cooking.  Bobby, of course, cleaned his clock.

In fairness, I have to say this likely should be called “Quicker Bolognese Sauce”.

Try as I did to see the episode in question, I could not find it on You Tube or anywhere else. And try as I did to follow Bobby’s recipe from “Bobby At Home. Fearless Flavors from my kitchen” (Clarkson Potter 2019), I could not bring this recipe in under an hour and twenty minutes. This, despite taking some short cuts of my own.  Still, that’s a huge time-saving from a traditional Bolognese which simmers on the stove for hours in many an Italian household. In American Italian kitchens, it’s the root of “Sunday Sauce” and an inevitable part of every Italian Grandmother’s repertoire.

How to cut down even more of the time it takes to cook this Quicker Version of the classic

The “Battuto” takes less time in the food processor.

Bobby Flay’s quicker version stands on its own.  It has more texture than its longer-cooking cousin.  You can almost single out the flavors of the tomatoes, the onions, the fennel, the bacon and the meat itself.  It’s hearty and manly and well the effort.  The recipe below is exactly as Bobby wrote it.  My hacks were using Tomato Pureé—only because I didn’t have the requested whole plum tomatoes. That might have saved all of three minutes mashing the tomatoes. I also used a Microplane on the garlic and White Wine instead of Rosé. But the biggest hack of all was using the food processor to make the ‘battuto’ which is what Italians call the diced vegetables at the heart of the dish. Here is the recipe and after it, some recipes for Italian favorites from our kitchen.




Bobby Flay's Quick Bolognese Sauce

January 31, 2020
: 6 cups of sauce
: 10 min
: Easy

A quicker take on this Italian classic yields a sauce that's chunkier and packs a lot of individual flavors in every bite.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces bacon, diced
  • 1½ pounds 80% lean ground chuck
  • ½ pound 80% lean ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • ¼ teaspoon Calabrian chile flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • ½ medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1 medium celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a paste using the side of a chef’s knife and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1 cup rosé wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes and their juices
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • To finish the dish:
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • Step 1 Cook the meat: Line a plate with paper towels and set it nearby. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook slowly until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the paper towel–lined plate to drain.
  • Step 2 Increase the heat to high, add the beef and pork to the pan, and season with the ground fennel, chile flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Drain the excess fat from the pot and set the meat aside.
  • Step 3 Make the sauce: Add the oil to the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and diced fennel and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and ground fennel and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Step 4 Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stock and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, coarsely mash the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the sauce comes to a boil and begins to thicken slightly, about 15 minutes. Add the meat to the pan and cook until the sauce thickens and combines, about 20 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Fold in the parsley and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Use immediately, or let cool to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Baked Pasta with Pesto, Cheese and Meat Sauce

Italian Sausage with Fennel, Zucchini and Raisins adapted from Letizia Mattiaci of Alla Madonna del Piatto

Cassata Siciliana or Italian Strawberry Shortcake from Julie Richardson




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