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Adventures in food for curious cooks.

Bolognese Sauce


Bolognese Sauce

Lynley Jones

Classic Italian meat sauce. You can serve it over wide, flat pasta noodles or use it to make Classic Lasagna. Or better, make a huge batch and do both!

Serves 4-6


Photo Apr 05, 1 07 26 PM - Copy.jpg

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced small (about 3/4 cup)

1 carrot, diced small (about 1/2 cup)

1 celery stalk, diced small (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup diced pancetta

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup dry white or red wine (see notes)

1 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes (eg, San Marzano), drained

1 cup lightly salted chicken or beef stock or broth

Ground black pepper

1 cup light cream or half-and-half 

Optional: 1 Tablespoon minced parsley, Parmesan cheese for serving


1. In a large pan, warm the oil over medium low heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and pancetta and saute for about 10 minutes, until very soft.

2. Add the beef and pork, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and cook for about 5 mintues, breaking up all the clumps and sauteing until the pink is gone.

3. Add the wine to the pan and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Classic Bolognese sauce.jpg

4. Crush the tomatoes into the meat mixture with your hands. Add the stock, stir and bring back to a simmer. Cook for at least 2 hours, very loosely covered (half-covered), occasionally stirring and breaking up the tomato chunks and clumps of meat, and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a slow simmer. At this point, the mixture should be thick and meaty, rather than saucy.

5. Add pepper and taste, adding another pinch of salt if needed. Stir in the cream and simmer with the lid off for 20-40 minutes until the cream is fully incorporated and the sauce is thick and meaty again. Sprinkle with the optional parsley if desired and serve with the optional Parmesan cheese.


Bolognese is really all about the meat - don't think of it as a tomato sauce with meat, think of it just as a meat sauce. (In fact, the word "sauce" is almost too strong here. It really functions more as a saucy-ish meat topping.) 

I strongly recommend making a double batch! Or more! Bolognese is a traditional ingredient in lasagna, so you can serve it over pasta one day, then use the rest to make this recipe on another day.

White wine is traditional, but if you happen to only have red on hand, don't let that stop you! It will taste great either way (as long as it's a dry wine).

You can skip the minced parsley in good conscience because, again it's all about the meat. But if you like the idea of dressing it up a bit, go for it.

You can make this ahead and refrigerate it covered for about 3 days, or freeze it for several months. In fact, an overnight rest in the fridge will probably make it taste even better.