Kate’s Pantry Bolognese

Written by Kate Falchi — March 20, 2020

In the midst of our common horrendous predicament, what better time, my mother and I thought to start a blog! We had dreamed about doing it before to capture what it’s like working together but of course it took until now while we are separated by federal mandate for it to be realized.  

One of the best gifts my mother ever gave me was the gift of loving to cook. When I was a kid I would watch in awe - wanting to take part in the symphony that was being orchestrated in front of me.  There was no simple dinner party at the falchi house- it was an education in entertaining and doing things with a gusto. Her first efforts were above all to make the night memorable, leaving people saying, “wow that was the best, thank you for having us”- at 3 am when the wine had finally run out. 

I feel it in my bones to say that it was always the unifier, the skill that brought people together in my house. Missy being everyone’s favorite at home chef and entertainer had created a plethora of delicious dishes of which everyone had their favorite- Missy makes the best meatloaf… Really?  have you had her enchiladas? It can’t be better than her banana cake- The list continues… as I haven’t even gotten to her bourbon slush yet…. I also wanted to be the purveyor of delish things that brought people together, so I studied- And how did I study? In Missy’s words, “being her bitch in the kitchen.”  Every Friday she would say to me, where do you think you're going? You are going to be my kitchen bitch today.”

There was no room for hesitation in her kitchen, she would shove a recipe in front of me and say, “you’re going to do the gratin. To which I would say, “but I don’t know how, I’m going to mess it up, what am I doing?” She would promptly respond, “you’ll figure it out!”  It was the best sink or swim environment. In true kitchen fashion, I might as well have said, “yes chef! “to every request. It worked because I still love it today. I learned to enjoy the process, mistakes and all.

As we are all cooped up in our respective bungalows, I wanted to share a recipe that is well suited for pulling from pantries and being stuck inside for hours- my Bolognese recipe. I realize that this is not a novel recipe concept however it is warm and comforting and every family adds their bit of heritage to it. It makes me feel connected and will hopefully do the same for you. 

Kate’s Pantry Bolognese!

  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of bacon and or pancetta, chopped and diced ½”
  • One large yellow onion diced and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 4 garlic cloves minced and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves to be thrown in whole
  • One can of tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice or 1 large can of crushed tomatoes, San Marzano is a great source. 
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • ¼ -pound ground beef chuck, ¼ ground pork, ¼ ground veal (can work with all of one type of meat as we are limited right now)
  • 1 cup red wine
  •  Salt
  •  Black pepper, (ground fresh if possible)
  • 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds pasta- Dried pasta works great!
  •  Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table
  • Minced fresh basil at the table
  • 3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta


    1. Put the oil, butter, chopped onion, and chopped garlic in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion and garlic until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well. Allow vegetables to start to brown- this will caramelize them and deepen flavor! Scrape bottom of pan as you stir items. 
    2. Once a slight browning has started-add full garlic cloves, and crumble meat -mixing different meats together, on top of vegetables in a pan. 
    3. On top of meat- scatter a pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper, and a dash of crushed pepper flakes, evenly distributed each. After seasoning, mix meat with vegetables below and be sure to scrape up the bottom of the pan as you move meat around. 
    4. Add a large pinch of oregano, garlic powder, and a few grindings of pepper, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color. Add a pinch of sugar to the top of meat and stir. Add can of tomato paste and allow for a slight browning of meat to occur, (again caramelization). It should start to smell sweet.
    5. Add the wine, let it simmer until half has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down to low so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an occasional bubble breaking through to the surface. It should sound like plop…plop…plop!
    6. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, it is important to intermittently taste and correct for salt and pepper as it cooks.  It is important to remember that as the liquid reduces it will get saltier so just add a pinch at a time. ---P.S. S#*T happens… (If you overly salt you can always add the following to save the sauce- a pinch of sugar, a ¼ cup of water, or a ¼ cup of plain crushed tomatoes). ---
    7. Prep pasta- Drain cooked pasta, leaving one cup of pasta water on the side. Add a tablespoon of butter and a dash of olive oil to drained pasta and stir. Add Sauce- if sauce is on thick side add reserved pasta water a little bit at a time to get to desired consistency. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and chopped basil on the side.

    A note- The best part of this recipe is that if you are missing a component here and there it’s okay because it will still come out!

      • Don’t have meat? Broil some vegetables and garlic in the oven turning occasionally for 20 mins. Allow vegetables to brown, then dice, and swap it for meat in step 3. 
      • Don’t have carrots and celery, add more onions or simply skip!



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