Authentic Bolognese Sauce
Bolognese is the Italian name for what American’s would consider a basic meat and tomato sauce.  However, an authentic bolognese is so much more; meaty, yet with a more delicate, aromatic, creamy and subtle flavor.  This dish has become one of my favorites to serve family and guests!
Servings Prep Time
8people 1hour
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
8people 1hour
Cook Time
  • 1/4cup butter
  • 1large yellow onionfinely diced
  • 2large celery stalksfinely diced
  • 4cloves garlicvery finely diced
  • 4.5oz pancettadiced to 1/4″ cubes
  • kosher salt
  • black pepperfreshly ground
  • 2 1/2lbs ground meatveal, pork and beef or all beef
  • 1cup dry white winelike a chardonnay
  • 2 cups milkI prefer whole milk
  • 28oz San Marzano tomatoescanned, both liquid and tomatoes, diced
  • 1cup beef stockhave extra on hand to add later
  • 2knobs butter
  • parmigiano-reggiano
  1. Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large saucepan over medium heat. I’m partial to a large Le Creuset dutch oven for this recipe. When the butter is melted and the sauce is hot, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and a good pinch of salt (about 1/2 tsp) and saute for 5 minutes stirring often.
  2. Add the diced pancetta and cook for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and pancetta is golden.
  3. Increase heat to high and add the meat a third at a time, stirring and breaking lumps with a wooden spoon between each addition. Adding the meat gradually allows the liquid to evaporate, which is key if you want to brown your meat rather than boil it. After the last addition, when no pick is visible and no lumps remain, set a timer for 15 minutes. You want your meat to caramelize and even become crispy in some spots. More liquids will evaporate and flavors will concentrate. You want golden bits of meat to stick to the bottom of the pan, which will be deglazed later. Watch over your pan as you don’t want the meat to burn. When you see some serious caramelization occurring, lower the heat to medium to reach the end of the 15 minute sauteing time.
  4. Over medium meat, pour the white wine into the sauce pan. With a wooden spoon, scrape all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Push the meat all around to make sure you scrape it all off, this is where that rich flavor comes from. By the time you’re finished, the wine will have evaporated 2-3 minutes). Be careful not to let the meat stick again so lower the heat if necessary.
  5. Add milk, diced tomatoes and their liquid, beef stock, 1 tsp salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower to the lowest heat and simmer very slowly, half-covered, for 4 hours. Let the magic begin!
  6. Stir at least every 20 minutes. If your sauce begins to stick to the bottom before the end of your cooking time, add a bit more beef stock or water. In the end you want your sauce to be thick, like that of oatmeal. Adjust the salt if necessary.
  7. Mix in a knob or two of butter before serving, this will produce an incredibly creamy flavor.
  8. Cook the pasta, I prefer a rigatoni or pappardelle noodle. Drain it thoroughly before spooning sauce onto the pasta, just enough to coat the noodles. Top each serving with a generous grating of parmigiano-reggiano, it’s time to eat!
Recipe Notes

Let me warn you, this is not your mama’s meat sauce!  This is a thick, smooth sauce with rich, complex flavor.  Enjoy!

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