Capital Region Cook-off: Battle Bolognese

Prep your pasta al dente! In our latest episode of Capital Region Cook-off, we’re pitting Chef Frank Otte from Panza’s Restaurant, one of Saratoga’s OG Italian haunts, against Executive Chef Nathan Houle of Glenville’s Waters Edge Lighthouse, in what we’re dubbing “Battle Bolognese.” Yes, you read that right: Our chefs are going mano a mano in a sauce-specific, Hamilton-Burr–style duel. So have your Le Creuset and ingredients at the ready, because the only thing that’ll be left on this battlefield will be red (sauce). 

Panza’s Restaurant

Chef Frank Otte’s Bolognese sauce

Yields 4 Quarts


20 oz ground beef
1¼ cup carrot, minced
1¼ cup celery, minced
1¼ cup onion, minced
2 tbsp garlic
2½cup red wine
2 bay leaves
1 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp Italian dried herbs
1 tbsp Kosher salt
2½cup canned ground tomatoes
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chicken base
84 oz whole tomatoes, canned
4 oz butter


Splash of heavy cream
Pecorino Romano, to taste


• Brown ground beef in a large pot. In a food processor, combine carrot, celery, onion and garlic until the mixture is in uniform bits, approximately 1/8 of an inch in size. Once beef has browned, drain the fat, add the veggie mixture and cook for five minutes. Add the red wine and reduce by 75 percent. Add the next eight ingredients (bay leaves through canned whole tomatoes) and cook for 20 minutes at a low simmer. Finish with butter, stirring to incorporate (this should make the sauce creamy). Adjust, to taste, with additional chili flakes, salt, pepper and sugar. 

• If a richer sauce is desired, heat sauce with a splash of heavy cream and finish with an additional pad of butter and more Pecorino Romano.

• Serve over pasta of choice and garnish with a dollop of whipped Mascarpone, fresh basil and shaved Parmesan cheese.


The Waters Edge Lighthouse

Executive Chef Nathan Houle’s Pappardelle Bolognese

Yields 8 servings


2 boxes De Cecco pappardelle
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground sweet sausage
1 lb ground veal
2 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
½ cup minced garlic
6 oz tomato paste
16 oz sherry cooking wine
2 28-oz cans tomato sauce
2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
¼ lb fresh basil (chiffonade)
1 oz Kosher salt
2 oz black pepper
1 whole nutmeg
16 oz heavy cream


In a large, deep, round saucepan on medium heat, add a touch of oil and all three meats (beef, sausage and veal). Stir and crumble them as they cook until you’re left with small, fully cooked chunks of meat. Pour meat into a colander placed over a bowl, so that meat drippings can be saved for later.

• Using the same unwashed pot that the meat was cooked in, add a touch of oil and set heat to medium high. Add onions, carrots, garlic and kosher salt, stirring often to prevent burning. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add the sherry wine and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, 2-4 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, fresh basil and cooked meat. Stir to incorporate. Add half of the rendered meat drippings, heavy cream and file a quarter of the nutmeg into the sauce. Stir to incorporate. Drop the heat to medium-low, stir often and allow the sauce to simmer lightly for 1-2 hours (the longer, the better).

• Cook the pappardelle, following the directions on the box. Toss the cooked pasta in a little bit of sauce to coat and allow pasta to absorb the flavors. Ladle some extra sauce over the top and garnish with some grated Parmesan cheese, filed nutmeg, fresh basil and/or chipped scallions.  

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