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Orecchiette Bolognese with Chestnuts
© Frances Janisch

Orecchiette Bolognese with Chestnuts

  • ACTIVE: 40 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 20 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 6
  • STAFF-FAVORITE

Chef Way Daniel Boulud tops house-made orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) with a bolognese sauce prepared with venison, pork butt, chicken liver and veal stock. He finishes the dish with fresh porcini mushrooms, chestnuts and butternut squash.

Easy Way Store-bought dried orecchiette gets tossed with a bolognese sauce made with just ham and ground chuck. Finishing the dish with chestnuts (leaving out the porcini and squash) adds a delicious and unexpected touch.

  1. 1 1/4 pounds thickly sliced smoked ham, torn into small pieces
  2. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 1 1/4 pounds ground beef chuck
  4. Pinch of ground cloves
  5. 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  6. 1 carrot, finely chopped
  7. 1 onion, finely chopped
  8. 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  9. 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
  10. 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
  11. 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  12. 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  13. One 28-ounce can tomato puree
  14. 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  15. Pinch of sugar
  16. Freshly ground pepper
  17. 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  18. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  19. 1 cup vacuum-packed chestnuts, coarsely chopped (4 ounces)
  20. 2 tablespoons very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  21. Salt
  22. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  1. Pulse the ham pieces in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped. In a large, deep casserole or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped ham, beef chuck and cloves and cook over high heat, stirring once or twice, until the meat begins to brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic to the casserole and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are barely softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sage, rosemary and crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red wine and cook until it is nearly evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree, chicken stock and sugar, season with pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and reduced by half, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until al dente.
  4. Stir the heavy cream into the bolognese sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped chestnuts and parsley and season lightly with salt. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Spoon the bolognese sauce over the pasta and serve, passing the Parmesan on the side.

Suggested Pairing

A Tuscan Chianti Classico full of ripe, juicy cherry flavor.