Bolognese with Polenta

Here it comes ladies and gentleman…another time consuming, but absolutely delicious-I’m-going-back-for-seconds-and-maybe-thirds kind of dinner!  

For my birthday, the wonderful man who is sleeping next to me and his daughter gave me a cookbook.  I had seen the chef before, primarily as a judge on the Iron Chef, but wasn’t familiar with her as a cook.  This book is awesome!  

Things are easy, even though sometimes time consuming; they have wonderful presentation potential without too much work; she dives into her Italian roots, which is one of my favorite food genres and the cookbook focuses mostly on entertaining and feeding family and friends, which is really what I’m all about.

And what I am all about is what I did that night that we made this.  We had family over – my job to cook, his job was to flash clean before everyone got here and everything came together great.  Red wine areated, white wine chilled, quick snacks laid out and family style!  LOVE IT!!!

Bolognese with Polenta

  • 1 Tbls Olive Oil
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 oz ground veal
  • 6 oz ground pork
  • 1/2 cup full-bodied red wine
  • 1 28oz can diced plum tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiana-Reggiano
  • 4 large basil leaves, cut into strips 
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Polenta Ingredients:
  • 6 cups water (you could substitute low sodium chicken broth)
  • 1 3/4 cups cornmeal
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 Tbls Butter
  • Ground white pepper


  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  • Add garlic and bay leaves, and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Add the veal and pork and cook, stirring to break up any chunks, until the meat is no longer pink.  
  • Add the wine, raise the heat to medium high, and cook until the liquid is reduced slightly.
  • Add the tomatoes and the cream and reduce the heat to low.  Cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so. 
  • Season with 3/4 tsp salt, plenty of pepper, and the nutmeg.  The sauce should be thick and chunky.  If it isn’t, increase the heat and cook for 10 minutes more.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in the Parmigiana and the basil and remove the bay leaves.
  • While the bolognese is cooking, boil the water for the polenta over high heat.  Add salt.
  • Once water is boiling, slowly whisk in cornmeal. 
  • Reduce heat and stir often for about 15 minutes to soften the cornmeal.  
  • Turn off heat and add butter and pepper and stir.  Further salt and pepper may be needed to taste. 
  • Scoop the warm polenta onto a parchment paper lined platter.  Top half the polenta with the bolognese and arrange the thin sliced pecorino cheese.  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and fresh herbs.
  • Serve immediately with large serving spoon…family style. 
Happy Cooking!!!
*Bolognese Recipe from Donatella Cooks by Donatella Arpaia.

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