Orecchiette Bolognese

I had never heard of this kind of pasta until I came across this recipe. .

Orecchiette (singular: orecchietta) is a kind of home-made pasta typical of Puglia or Apulia, a region of Southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which reminds one of a small ear. In Italian orecchio means ear, and the suffix ‘etto’ means ‘small’.

“Orecchiette probably come from the Provence region in France where a similar type of pasta has been made since Medieval times. This kind of pasta is disc-shaped with a hollowed center, usually obtained by pressing the thumb on the disc of dough; this particular shape facilitates the drying process so that the pasta could be saved for a famine. Boats leaving for long trips used to carry large quantities of this pasta. It is then claimed that the Anjous, the French dynasty that dominated Apulia in 1200, brought orecchiette into Italy with its current name.”

I didn’t have any chestnuts so left them out of this recipe; it was still delicious! This is now one of my favorite pasta recipes! I love how the pasta holds the sauce so you get the lovely, delicious sauce in every bite!!! Y.U.M. Hope you give this one a try and enjoy!


Orecchiette Bolognese


  • 1 1/4 pounds thickly sliced smoked ham, torn into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef chuck
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • One 28-ounce can tomato puree
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup vacuum-packed chestnuts, coarsely chopped (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving



  1. Pulse the ham pieces in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped. In a large, deep casserole or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped ham, beef chuck and cloves and cook over high heat, stirring once or twice, until the meat begins to brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic to the casserole and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are barely softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sage, rosemary and crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red wine and cook until it is nearly evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree, chicken stock and sugar, season with pepper and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and reduced by half, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until al dente.
  4. Stir the heavy cream into the bolognese sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped chestnuts and parsley and season lightly with salt. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Spoon the bolognese sauce over the pasta and serve, passing the Parmesan on the side.

5 thoughts on “Orecchiette Bolognese

  1. i had a dish with that pasta at olive garden one time. my waiter was in training, and i asked him what the pasta was. he said, “well, it kinda looks like a nipple.” the girl who was training him said, “well, actually, it kinda looks more like a hat.”

  2. Pingback: Orecchiette Pasta with Pesto « Hip Foodie Mom

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