Orecchiette Bolognese with Chestnuts

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.

Orecchiette Bolognese with Chestnuts
Photo: © Frances Janisch
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins


  • 1 ¼ pounds thickly sliced smoked ham (torn into small pieces)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 ¼ pounds ground beef chuck

  • 1 pinch of ground cloves

  • 1 celery rib (finely chopped)

  • 1 carrot (finely chopped)

  • 1 onion (finely chopped)

  • 2 garlic cloves (very finely chopped)

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 ½ cups dry red wine

  • 28 ounce can tomato puree

  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • 1 pinch of sugar

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta

  • ½ cup heavy cream

  • 1 cup vacuum-packed chestnuts (4 ounces coarsely chopped)

  • 2 tablespoons very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • Salt

  • 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.

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