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The Best Recipe, by Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine

Serves 4

Don't drain the pasta of its cooking water too meticulously when using this sauce; a little water left clinging to the noodles will help distribute the very thick sauce evenly over the noodles, as will adding two tablespoons of butter along with the sauce. If doubling this recipe, increase the simmering times for the milk and the wine to 30 minutes each, and increase the simmering time once the tomatoes are added to 4 hours.

• 5  tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2  tablespoons minced onion
• 2  tablespoons minced carrot
• 2  tablespoons minced celery
• 3/4  pound meatloaf mix or 1/4 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork
• Salt
• 1  cup whole milk
• 1  cup dry white wine
• 1  can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes packed in juice, chopped fine, with juice reserved
• 1  pound fresh or dried fettuccine
• Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 3 tablespoons butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot, and celery and saute until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add ground meat and 1/2 teaspoon salt; crumble meat with edge of wooden spoon 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.

2. Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 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 3 hours (if lowest burner setting is too high to allow such a low simmer, use a flame tamer). Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste. Keep sauce warm. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days or frozen for several months. Warm over low heat before serving.)

3. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain pasta, leaving some water dripping from noodles. Toss with sauce and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Distribute among individual bowls and serve immediately, with cheese passed separately at the table.


Fettuccine With Beef, Pancetta, And Red Wine Bolognese Sauce
All ground beef works best with the pancetta in this sauce. If you can't find pancetta, use prosciutto, but don't use American bacon, which is smoked and will overwhelm the beef. Last, we found that red wine stands up to the more robust flavors in this sauce better than the white wine.

Follow recipe for Fettuccine with Bolognese Sauce, adding 2 ounces minced pancetta to butter along with vegetables, substituting 3/4 pound ground beef chuck for meatloaf mix, and substituting an equal amount of red wine for white wine.


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