A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise. It cannot pretend to replace the practiced hand and telling glance of a watchful cook. For that reason, this is also an account of what happens when I make this dish, so you’ll understand each step. Of course when you cook it once, it becomes yours, so personalize it a bit. Add more of an ingredient you like or less of something you don’t like. Try substituting one ingredient for another. Remember words have no flavour, you have to add your own!
1. Pulse onions, carrots, garlic cloves, mushrooms, celery and olive oil in a food processor until finely chopped. This may need to be done in several batches.
2. Heat a large sauté pan with the olive oil and add pancetta. Fry until golden, aromatizing the oil with the rich flavour of the Italian bacon. Add the vegetable mixture and sauté until it begins to caramelize. Add ground meats and stir vigorously to break apart. Stir in the tomato paste, red wine, bay leaf and stewed tomatoes and continue to stir and break up any chunks of meat. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and all the flavours have blended. Taste and season with salt and pepper.