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Il Corvo's Ultimate Bolognese Sauce



It still feels like winter here in Michigan!  I'm doing a lot of sewing and cooking wintry dishes like this one, until some nice weather arrives.  We do get to sneak out to Seattle, where one of our sons lives, where the weather is much nicer than here. And the food is so, so good! 

There is a wildly popular tiny Italian restaurant in Seattle's Pioneer Square area that has a line out the door every day.  It serves lunch only, Monday through Friday. It's Mike Easton's Il Corvo and it serves some of the best pasta in the city.  

Il Corvo has just three pasta dishes every day that they offer - all made in house to Mike Easton's impeccable standards.  The menu changes every day.  The food is reasonably priced and outstanding, which explains the line out the door.  They offer some vegetable sides and decent wines by the glass.  It makes for a very, very good lunch that is worth the wait.

Very soon, people will be able to buy Easton's pastas to take home with them at his new Il Corvo Pasta Studio, which is supposed to open this summer, 2016. 

This is Chef Easton's recipe for his Bolognese sauce.  He believes in taking the time to get a recipe right.  This is not your ordinary bolognese sauce - this recipe starts with toasted spices and the sauce is cooked very low for several hours and then pureed.  Yes, pureed - and that is a great idea for a meat sauce.  It makes the sauce cling to the pasta very nicely.  This is done easily with an immersion blender put right in the pot.  If you don't have one, you can use a regular blender, but a stick blender makes the job so much easier. 

The bolognese sauce is not the most beautiful sauce after it's pureed, but it sure is tasty!



Il Corvo Ultimate Bolognese Sauce

for a printable recipe click here

spice mix:
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces chicken livers, rinsed, finely chopped
1½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
Freshly ground pepper
½ large onion, finely chopped
½ small bunch thyme
¼ cup Mama Lil's Kick Butt Peppers in Oil or Peppadew peppers
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 14-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
½ cup red wine
1¼ lb. ground beef chuck (20% fat)
1 pound pork shoulder (Boston Butt), ground
1½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

pasta and assembly:
12 ounces pappardelle pasta
4 Tablespoons butter
3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ¾ cup) 

the sauce before and after blending


Prepare the spices:  Toast the spices in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes (this releases their flavor).  Let cool, then finely grind in a spice mill (or use a mortar and pestle). 

Make sauce:  Preheat oven to 250°. Heat oil in a medium ovenproof pot over medium-high.  Add livers and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until livers are deeply browned - almost burned, really - 5-8 minutes. 

Add onion, thyme, and peppers, stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring as needed, until onion is brown and soft, 5-8 minutes more. Stir in garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in spice mixture and 1½ teaspoons salt. 

Add tomatoes, then wine, stirring and scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add meat and stir to combine (the mixture will be fairly stiff but will loosen as it cooks). Add milk and mix well - everything should be evenly coated.

Cover pot with a lid and transfer to oven; bake for 6 hours.

Remove pot from oven. The sauce will have firmed up, stir to loosen. Pluck out thyme and, using an immersion blender, puree sauce until smooth.  Add vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta just until barely tender. Do not overcook. Reserve the pasta water (at least a cup and a half).

To serve the sauce, toss pasta and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Ladle in bolognese and toss until pasta is well coated (about 2 cups). Toss and add pasta cooking liquid as needed to create a glossy sauce that coats the noodles.  Toss with Parmesan and serve. 

reprinted from Bon Appetit



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Reader Comments (10)

We have our own recipe for Bolognese sauce and yes it does take a long time and yes it is delicious!! And it is worth every minute! But I would love to taste this recipe. Im always open to new ideas, new techniques. Now, the subject of butter -- there is no substitute as far as taste goes. And I will cut down on calories on some of my meals but I won't sacrifice a delicious recipe with cutting down on a necessary ingredient. I will look forward to making this and I do have an immersion blender :-)

I think you have a misprint in the amount of butter needed in the final preparation.

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrookeCookie

From The Italian Dish:

BrookeCookie: You know, it was interesting - the original recipe as printed by Bon Appetit has a much higher amount of butter than their digital version. I'm going to go ahead and believe they misprinted it in the print version and will change it to what the digital version says. It seems more reasonable!

April 4, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

OH my goodness that looks delicious!!!! I love pasta!!! Blessings from Missouri :0!! Always glad to see a post from you !!!

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobbin

I can almost taste it! Just spent the weekend in Michigan - got to experience lots of April snow. It was beautiful, but it was kind of nice to get back to the blooms here in Virginia. Hope Spring arrives for you soon!

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia @ ButterYum

This looks really good but I wonder why the milk in this dish? Also,
I always use cinnamon in the spice mix. Not much …maybe 1/4 tsp, but
you can tell that it is there. BTW Pappardelle is my favorite flat pasta.
I have to remember to use that more often. Thanks!

From The Italian Dish:

Camille: Milk is a traditional ingredient in Italian Bolognese sauce. Try it!

April 6, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I might give it a try next week and see how it goes.

Looks amazing! Reminds me of my childhood

July 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Hi, question about tossing the cooked pasta with butter. Wouldn't the butter keep the sauce from sticking to the noodles?

May 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRaj

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