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Orecchiette Bolognese Recipe

Orecchiette Bolognese is a delicious and hearty Italian dish that incorporates an incredible combination of flavors to create a memorable meal.

Originating from the southern region of Italy, orecchiette pasta, meaning “small ear,” is known for its unique shape, which is perfect for catching tasty sauces.

This particular recipe features tender, slow-cooked meat combined with a rich tomato sauce, creating an incredibly satisfying, comforting, and savory dinner.

The beauty of Orecchiette Bolognese lies in its simple yet high-quality ingredients and the techniques used to bring out its best flavors.

The blend of tender pasta, robust sauce, and skillful preparation will make Orecchiette Bolognese a favorite in your culinary repertoire.

How to Make Orecchiette Bolognese

orecchiette bolognese recipe feat

Ingredients List

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 4 Italian pork sausages
  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 cup celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Step-by-step Process

Step 1:

Gather and prepare your ingredients, including mincing the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, and chopping the fresh basil.

Step 2:

In a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.

Step 3:

Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, around 6 minutes.

Step 4:

Add the ground beef chuck, lean ground sirloin, and red pepper flakes (if using) to the pot.

Break up the ground meats using a wooden spoon to ensure even cooking.

Step 5:

Continue cooking the ground meat until browned and cooked through on medium-high heat.

Drain any excess grease if necessary.

Step 6:

Remove the casings from the Italian pork sausages and add them to the pot.

Break the sausages apart using your wooden spoon, mixing them in with the cooked ground meat.

Step 7:

Stir in the 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, combining it with the meat and vegetables in the pot.

Cook for an additional 5 minutes to let the flavors meld together.

Step 8:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt.

Add the pound of orecchiette and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.

Step 9:

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water for adjusting the sauce’s consistency, if necessary.

Step 10:

Stir in the fresh basil and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 11:

Add cooked orecchiette to the bolognese sauce and mix gently to combine.

If needed, add a small amount of the reserved pasta water to reach the desired consistency.

Step 12:

Serve your Orecchiette Bolognese with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top, if desired.

Enjoy your delicious homemade orecchiette bolognese, full of rich flavors and hearty ingredients.

Side Dishes For Orecchiette Bolognese

When serving Orecchiette Bolognese, you may want to provide complementary side dishes to round out the meal.

Here are a few options to consider, keeping in mind the rich flavors of the bolognese sauce, which often includes ingredients such as pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.

Garlic Knots

Garlic knots are an excellent side dish to pair with Orecchiette Bolognese.

These soft, pillowy rolls are infused with the aroma of garlic and brushed with melted butter, making them a delicious accompaniment to your pasta dish.

The robust flavors of the bolognese sauce will balance nicely with the garlicky taste of the knots.

Caesar Salad

A Caesar Salad is a classic choice to serve alongside your Orecchiette Bolognese. The cris

p romaine lettuce, creamy Caesar dressing, and crunchy croutons will provide a welcome contrast to the rich, meaty pasta sauce.

Plus, the parmesan cheese shavings often found in Caesar salads will echo the flavors of the cheese in your bolognese.

Braised Mushrooms

Braised mushrooms are another excellent side dish option, and their earthy, savory flavors complement the meatiness of the bolognese sauce.

You can choose from a variety of mushroom types, such as cremini, shiitake, or porcini.

The tender texture of the mushrooms will provide a nice counterpoint to the orecchiette pasta.

Spaghetti Squash

For a lighter, vegetable-focused side dish, consider serving spaghetti squash alongside your Orecchiette Bolognese.

The spaghetti-like strands of the squash can be a unique way to incorporate additional texture and flavors.

Additionally, the mild taste of the squash will allow the bold flavors of the bolognese sauce — including the spiciness of the pepper flakes — to take center stage.

Ingredients Substitutes for Orecchiette Bolognese

When making Orecchiette Bolognese, you might not always have the exact ingredients on hand.

Here are some substitutes that could work well:

Black Pepper

If you don’t have black pepper, you can use white pepper as an alternative.

While the flavor profile is slightly different, it still adds a mild, peppery taste to the dish.

Pepper Flakes

In case you don’t have pepper flakes, cayenne pepper or paprika can be good alternatives.

Adjust the amount according to your taste, as cayenne pepper is spicier than pepper flakes.

Olive Oil

If you need to substitute olive oil, you can use sunflower or vegetable oil.

They both have a neutral flavor that works well for cooking the bolognese sauce without affecting the overall taste.

Garlic Cloves

If you don’t have fresh garlic cloves, you can use garlic powder or minced garlic from a jar.

Keep in mind that the intensity of flavor may be different, so adjust your measurements accordingly.

Italian Sausage

If you’d like to substitute Italian sausage, consider using ground beef, ground pork, or a mixture of both.

Just remember to season the meat with Italian spices to achieve a similar flavor.

Remember, substitutions can alter the taste and texture of the final dish.

However, these options can help you create a delicious Orecchiette Bolognese even if you don’t have all the original ingredients.

How To Store Orecchiette Bolognese

Storing your Orecchiette Bolognese properly is essential to maintain its flavor and freshness, making it perfect for a weeknight meal or dinner.

Here are some ways to store the dish effectively.

Refrigerate

You can store the cooked Orecchiette Bolognese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Make sure to allow it to cool down before sealing and placing it in the fridge.

This will help prevent condensation from forming inside the container, which can lead to spoilage.

Freeze

If you wish to store your Orecchiette Bolognese for a longer period, freezing is an excellent option.

You can freeze the cooked dish in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags for up to 2-3 months.

Remember to label and date the containers or bags to keep track of their storage duration.

To serve, thaw the frozen Orecchiette Bolognese in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it on the stovetop over a gentle simmer, adding pasta water if necessary to adjust the sauce’s consistency.

Store pasta and sauce separately.

If you have leftover pasta and Bolognese sauce, consider storing them separately.

This will help maintain the best texture in both components when you reheat them.

Place the cooked pasta in an airtight container and toss it with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Store the sauce in a separate container.

Combine the pasta and sauce when you are ready to serve the dish.

How To Reheat Orecchiette Bolognese

When you reheat your Orecchiette Bolognese, it’s essential to do it correctly to maintain the dish’s quality and taste.

Heat the sauce over medium-low heat in a saucepan until it reaches a gentle simmer.

Adding a few tablespoons of pasta water can help loosen the sauce if it has thickened during storage.

It’s best to cook fresh orecchiette or reheat leftover pasta in boiling water with a pinch of kosher salt for just a few minutes until it is warmed through and al dente.

Drain the pasta, then combine it with the reheated sauce and garnish with a few fresh bay leaves for added flavor.

Remember these storage methods and tips to ensure that your Orecchiette Bolognese retains its delicious taste and texture, ready to be enjoyed whenever you desire a comforting weeknight meal.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when preparing Orecchiette Bolognese.

Not using medium heat.

When preparing Orecchiette Bolognese, make sure you use medium heat throughout the cooking process.

Cooking at a higher temperature may result in unevenly cooked ingredients, whereas lower heat may take too long and lead to a bland taste.

Forgetting the tomato paste

Tomato paste plays a crucial role in this recipe, adding a burst of flavor and helping to thicken the sauce.

Be sure to include it in your list of ingredients and add it at the appropriate stage of the cooking process.

Neglecting the veg-heavy pasta dinner

In this indulgent pasta dish, vegetables like onions, celery, and carrots play a critical role in providing a well-rounded flavor.

Don’t skip or skimp on these key ingredients; finely mince them so they can meld with the sauce and contribute to the overall taste.

Being stingy with salt and pepper

Seasoning your dish is essential.

A generous pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper can elevate the flavor profile of your Orecchiette Bolognese.

Make sure to taste and adjust the seasoning as needed throughout the cooking process.

Choosing the wrong type of ground beef

Opt for ground beef chuck when making your bolognese sauce.

This cut has a higher fat content, which adds flavor and produces a richer, more satisfying sauce.

Lean ground beef will yield a less flavorful and thinner sauce.

Ignoring the addition of sausage

Although not a traditional ingredient in bolognese sauce, adding sausage to your skillet can enhance the taste and create a more robust and meaty dish.

Consider incorporating it into your recipe for an extra layer of flavor.

Neglecting to season your pasta water

Adding a tablespoon of salt to your pasta water is essential for the best results.

This simple step helps infuse flavor into the pasta as it cooks, ensuring that every bite is tasty and well-seasoned. 

orecchiette bolognese recipe feat

Orecchiette Bolognese Recipe

a delicious and hearty Italian dish that incorporates an incredible combination of flavors to create a memorable meal.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Equipment
  • 1 Large pan or Dutch oven
  • 1 large pot
Ingredients
  
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 4 Italian pork sausages
  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 cup celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese to serve
Instructions
 
  • Gather and prepare your ingredients, including mincing the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, and chopping the fresh basil.
  • In a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, around 6 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef chuck, lean ground sirloin, and red pepper flakes (if using) to the pot.
    Break up the ground meats using a wooden spoon to ensure even cooking.
  • Continue cooking the ground meat until browned and cooked through on medium-high heat.
    Drain any excess grease if necessary.
  • Remove the casings from the Italian pork sausages and add them to the pot.
    Break the sausages apart using your wooden spoon, mixing them in with the cooked ground meat.
  • Stir in the 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, combining it with the meat and vegetables in the pot.
    Cook for an additional 5 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt.
    Add the pound of orecchiette and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water for adjusting the sauce's consistency, if necessary.
  • Stir in the fresh basil and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add cooked orecchiette to the bolognese sauce and mix gently to combine.
    If needed, add a small amount of the reserved pasta water to reach the desired consistency.
  • Serve your Orecchiette Bolognese with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top, if desired.

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