Mortadella Bolognese With Pistachio Gremolata Recipe

Houston, we have liftoff

A well-made Bolognese sauce is beautiful. Slowly simmered on the stovetop, it has richness from pork, sweetness from alliums and tomatoes, and a meaty backbone from veal, beef and sometimes pancetta. In this version from The Pass & Provisions in Houston, Texas, co-chefs and owners Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner add the Italian predecessor to bologna, mortadella, heavy cream and fish sauce for a smack of umami. Add to that the lemony perk of a spoonful of pistachio gremolata, and you'll wonder how marinara could ever compete.

Recipe adapted from Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner, The Pass & Provisions, Houston, TX

Mortadella Bolognese With Pistachio Gremolata
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Mortadella Bolognese from The Pass & Provisions in Houston, TX
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • Bolognese
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound mortadella (unsliced), cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large sprig fresh oregano
  • 1 large sprig fresh marjoram (or a total of 2 oregano sprigs)
  • 1 large sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 celery stalks, very finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1½ large yellow onions, very finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, very finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, very finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Kosher salt (for boiling pasta)
  • 1 pound conchiglie (shell-shaped pasta)
  • Gremolata
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Make the bolognese: Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set a medium bowl inside of the ice water bath. Using a meat grinder or the grinder attachment of a stand mixer, force the pork shoulder and then the mortadella through the grinder and into the bowl set within the ice water bath (or freeze the chunks of meat for 20 minutes until semi-frozen and then pulse in a food processor to break them down into a rough-textured mixture).
  2. To a large pot set over medium heat, add the black peppercorns, fennel seeds and star anise. Cook, stirring often, until the fennel seeds are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the spices to a large, doubled square of cheesecloth (set the pot aside for making the sauce). Add the basil leaves, oregano sprig, marjoram sprig, thyme sprig and bay leaf to the cheesecloth and secure the sachet with butcher's twine.
  3. Set the pot over high heat, add the olive oil, and heat until the oil is hot, about 1 minute. Add the ground pork shoulder and mortadella and cook, stirring often, until the meat is browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a medium bowl. To the pot, add the celery, garlic, onions, shallot and carrot and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Return the meat to the pot and add the red wine, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the red wine vinegar and fish sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes, cream, milk and herb-spice sachet, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, taste and season with salt if needed. Discard the herb-spice sachet.
  6. While the sauce cooks, make the gremolata: Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, add the pistachios and toast until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a medium plate to cool. Once cool, place the pistachios in a food processor and pulse until pulverized but not powder-fine, about six 1-second pulses. Transfer the pistachios to a medium bowl and stir in the olive oil, parsley and lemon zest and juice. Stir to combine and then add the salt.
  7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, then drain. Add the pasta to the bolognese and divide between 6 bowls. Top with pistachio gremolata and serve.
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