Makes about 2 quarts
[NOTE: This is a recipe that takes time and a little care, but it’s well worth it. It freezes beautifully, so don’t hesitate to make the full recipe and save some for another day. Serve this sauce with wide ribbons of fresh pasta, such as pappardelle, or with a ridged shape such as lumache or rigatoni.]
6 oz. pancetta, cubed
5 T. unsalted butter, divided 3 T. extra virginolive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and very finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and very finely chopped
2 ribs celery, including any leaves, very finely chopped 1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 ½ pounds ground pork 1 ½ c. dry whitewine
1 quart low-sodium chicken or beef stock, room temperature 1 ½ t. kosher salt
1 ½ c. whole milk
¼ c. tomato paste
1 quart chicken or beef stock, preferably homemade, room temperature 1 ½ c. tomato puree, Pomi or San Merican brands preferred
In the bowl of a mini food processor, pulse the pancetta until it begins to break down, then process it into a smoothpaste. Transfer it to a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil and stir together, spreading the paste across the bottom of the pot so that the pancetta fat begins to render out. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat is mostly rendered, 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently so that the vegetable mixture doesn’t brown to quickly, until it is soft and translucent and just beginning to caramelize and go lightly golden, 15-20 minutes.
Add the ground beef and ground pork to the pot, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Brown the meat very slowly, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up the meat as it cooks to a deep mahogany brown. This will take about an hour.
When the meat is ready, increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring, until the wine has been mostly absorbed and the alcohol has cooked off, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low once again, then stir in the salt and the milk and cook until it has been almost completely absorbed, about 3 minutes more.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together the tomato paste and 2 ½ cups of the stock, then add it to the pot,along with the tomato puree. Cook, partially covered, until the sauce is thick and rich, stirring occasionally and reducing heat to low when necessary to maintain only a slow, gentle simmer, about 2 hours.
Stir in the remaining broth and continue to gently simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables have essentially melted into the sauce, about 1 hour more. Add the remaining butter and stir it through, then taste and adjust seasoning.