Goat Heart Bolognese
Goat heart bolognese is a take on one of the most famous Italian meat sauces. Bolognese ragu is from Bologna, a town in Italy known for it’s 1000 year-old university as well as the famous pasta sauce. There’s many variations of the sauce, as you might expect with other famous, cultural culinary traditions, but there’s a few things that stand out as constants, at least to Chef Bergo, who, over the course of his career, worked for chefs from Rome, Milan, and Garfagnana.
The constant parts of the sauce, are ground meat, tomato, wine, and some sort of dairy, typically milk or the addition of cream at the end. Chef Bergo’s favorite version uses a bit of chicken liver, and it was that version that gave him the idea to make our Bolognese, made with grass fed goat hearts. While a Bolognese sauce made from pure goat livers would taste strong, hearts are very mild tasting offal, and, when ground, will be just as tender as any other ground meat you might use.
The recipe is very easy, but you’ll need a meat grinder to grind the hearts. Once the hearts are trimmed and ground, a simple sauce is made starting with ground carrot, onion, and celery, followed by the hearts, wine, milk, tomato, and herbs. The mixture simmers slowly for an hour or two, and, from there, can be frozen or stored for months at a time without the quality suffering. Straight from the pot after cooking, the ragu will taste great, but for a real restaurant style dish, try Chef’s tutorial for heating up scoops of the cooled sauce with a splash of tomato, parsley, and a knob of butter. It’s one of our favorite ways to eat goat hearts yet!
This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a veteran of the culinary industry, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. He’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at his site Forager Chef.
Goat Heart Bolognese
- Meat grinder
- Pasta pot
- Wide saute pan or skillet
- 2 lbs goat or lamb hearts frozen, whole
- 5 oz lamb belly or pork pancetta, cubed (optional)
- 25 grams garlic cloves whole
- 1 rib of celery chopped
- 1 medium carrot chopped
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- High quality parmesan cheese to taste
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup Tomato sauce
- 2 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- Allow the hearts to thaw for 30 minutes on the counter, but do not thaw completely—having them frozen a bit will help them grind easily. Trim the goat hearts of any remaining central vein/aorta. Cube the hearts into pieces that can fit in the meat grinder, roughly 1-2 inch pieces.
- Mix the hearts, belly or pancetta, garlic cloves and chopped vegetables, then pass all of it through a meat grinder on a coarse die. When you get to the end, add another celery stick or a couple pieces of carrot to the grinder to help get the meat mixture out, a piece of bread is good too.
- Heat the oil in a wide braising or soup pot, then sweat the ground mixture until the pan is nearly dry. Add the remaining ingredients, bring the mixture to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cook for 2 hours or until the sauce is thick. To serve, double check the seasoning, adjust as needed, stir in the butter and parsley, then ladle over cooked noodles with parmesan on the side.
To serve as you would eat in a restaurant.
- For 4 servings, heat 3/4 cup of tomato puree in a pan, then add 2.5 cups of cooled ragu, heat through, double check the seasoning and adjust, add parmesan to taste along with 4 tablespoons of butter, and toss with the pasta directly in the pan, heat for a minute or to so the flavors can meld, finally, finish with the parsley and serve.
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