The Nickel's Lamb Bolognese Is Perfect Comfort Food on a Cold Day

After a long, hard day, we all like comfort food, but "comfort" differs from person to person. For some it's pho, for others it's short ribs or macaroni and cheese. I've always been partial to spaghetti Bolognese for the coziness it brings to a cold winter's night. And at the Nickel, which I review this week, executive chef Christopher Thompson makes a particularly winsome version, inspired by his travels in Italy. He agreed to share the recipe with us, simplifying it slightly for the home cook. See also: The Nickel Is a Fast Change-Up for Hotel Teatro

Lamb Bolognese Recipe from Christopher Thompson, executive chef of the Nickel

1 white onion, minced 1 medium carrot, finely diced 2 tablespoons bacon fat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 6 cups San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand 2.5 pounds ground Colorado lamb

1) Sweat the onion and carrot in bacon fat and oil. Cook until soft. Remove from the pan but retain the oil.

2) Brown the ground lamb, then add the carrot and onion back in with the tomatoes.

3) Bring to a simmer, adjust heat to low and stir occasionally, about three hours. Salt to taste.

At the Nickel, Thompson serves the sauce with mascarpone and ricotta gnocchi -- but his Bolognese is so good, I'd understand if you can't resist sneaking a few bites straight from the pot.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz