This Bolognese Sauce Recipe has layers of flavors, and is going to elevate your pasta nights to new levels!
Rich and meaty, it simmers for hours. But at the end, it’s so worth the wait when you take your first bite of the perfect final product.
This isn’t your basic weeknight Spaghetti Sauce, it’s a culinary work of art!
We have a lot of pasta nights around here. It’s my husband’s favorite.
But when we want something really special, something that takes a bit of time and love, it’s hard to beat Bolognese!
What is Bolognese Sauce?
Bolognese sauce is a meat-based sauce that originates from Bologna, Italy. The classic recipe varies among different families and regions.
It is a labor of love, with a number of different steps before it’s allowed to simmer for several hours.
Bolognese falls under the Ragù category of sauces, where meat is the main component, creating a very rich and thick sauce.
Italian soffritto, a combination of onion, celery and carrot adds a layer of flavor, along with broth, wine and tomato.
The addition of milk makes Bolognese unique, and adds richness and creaminess to the sauce.
Tips and Tricks for the BEST Bolognese Sauce
The secret to a great Bolognese often lies in paying attention to detail and not rushing the process. Here are some tips to make the best sauce ever:
- Quality Ingredients: Start with the best quality ingredients you can find. Fresh vegetables, good quality ground meat (a mix of pork and beef is traditional), San Marzano tomatoes and a good dry wine will all contribute to a more flavorful sauce.
- Soffritto: The base of your sauce is the soffritto – finely chopped onion, carrot, and celery. Take your time sweating these down slowly. For more details, see our Italian Soffritto post.
- Slow Cook: Real Bolognese sauce isn’t a quick affair. It should simmer slowly for at least 2-3 hours. This slow cooking process helps all the flavors meld together and allows the sauce to develop a rich, complex flavor.
- Milk: Although it may seem odd to add milk to a tomato sauce, traditional Bolognese includes it. The milk adds richness and balances acidity in the sauce.
- Seasoning: Don’t forget to season as you go, but be careful with the salt, especially if you’re reducing the sauce a lot or using salty stock. It’s easier to add more salt at the end if necessary, but impossible to take it out if you’ve added too much.
- Wine: Use a decent wine in your sauce. If it isn’t good enough to drink, it isn’t good enough to cook with.
- Rest: If you can, let the sauce rest in the refrigerator overnight before using. Like many slow-cooked dishes, Bolognese often tastes better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld together.
- Ground meat – We are using a 50/50 mix of ground beef and ground pork. You can use just ground beef, or even use other meats like ground lamb or veal.
- Pancetta – In a pinch you can use bacon, but pancetta is preferable.
- Soffritto – Onion, carrot and celery.
- Garlic – Of course.
- Tomato paste – For added depth of flavor.
- White wine – A dry variety like pinot grigio or chardonnay.
- Whole canned tomatoes – Preferably San Marzano. Crush them in a bowl by hand.
- Beef broth – We use Better than Bullion.
- Whole milk
Easy Bolognese Sauce Recipe
In a large pot (we used a 7qt dutch oven), cook the pancetta until it begins to crisp up. Remove to a plate.
Over medium heat, add the soffritto. Cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it becomes soft and aromatic.
Add in the meat and garlic. Cook till it is browned, breaking it up into small pieces as you go along. Stir in tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes.
Next add in the wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, beef broth and cooked pancetta.
Simmer for 2-3 hours, adding the milk in the last 45 minutes to one hour of cooking time.
How to Serve Bolognese Sauce
Bolognese sauce is most traditionally served with pasta, particularly tagliatelle, a type of broad, flat noodle. This is often referred to as “tagliatelle al ragù”.
In fact, in 1982, the Bolognese chapter of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, “decreed” an “official” recipe for Bolognese sauce, which includes serving it with tagliatelle.
That being said, feel free to use it with other pasta shapes like spaghetti or rigatoni. It also makes a great sauce base for lasagna.
You can also serve it over gnocchi or polenta.
And wine. Don’t forget the wine. 😉
Leftovers and Storage
You can refrigerate leftover Bolognese sauce in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It can also be frozen for 3 months in a freezer safe container, just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using.
Reheat in a pan on stovetop over medium heat, adding a little extra water if necessary.
So there you have it, the ultimate in Italian meat sauces. Bolognese. It’s your special Sunday dinner or company night meal. Trust me, it’s going to get rave reviews!
Make sure to save or pin this recipe so you always know where to find it. And don’t forget to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you!
Bolognese Sauce, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 4oz diced pancetta
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 6 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed in a bowl
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 cup milk
- salt, to taste
- In a large pot (we used a 7qt dutch oven), cook the pancetta until it begins to crisp up. Remove to a plate.
- Over medium heat, add the soffritto to the remaining pancetta grease. Cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it becomes soft and aromatic.
- Add in the meat and garlic. Cook till it is browned, breaking it up into small pieces as you go along.
- Stir in tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Next add in the wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add in the tomatoes, beef broth and cooked pancetta.
- Simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours, adding the milk in the last 45 minutes to one hour of cooking time. Taste and adjust for salt.
- Serve with your favorite pasta.
- This sauce is enough for about 1 pound of pasta.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 474Total Fat 30gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 116mgSodium 325mgCarbohydrates 10gFiber 2gSugar 7gProtein 34g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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