Pasta with classic bolognese sauce recipe

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A good Bolognese sauce should be thick and smooth with rich, complex flavor. The meat should be first and foremost, but there should be sweet, salty, and acidic flavors in the background. To get this complexity, we built our Bolognese in layers, starting with just onion, carrot, and celery sautéed in butter. Then we added meatloaf mix (a combination of ground beef, veal, and pork). For dairy, we used milk, which complemented the meat flavor without adding too much richness. Once the milk was reduced,
we added white wine to the pot for a more robust sauce, followed by chopped whole canned tomatoes. A long, slow simmer produced a luxuriously rich sauce with layers of flavor and tender meat. If you can’t find meatloaf mix, use 6 ounces (85 percent lean) ground beef and 6 ounces ground pork.

  • Yield: 6 Servings
  • Total Time: 4 Hours


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced carrot
  • 2 tablespoons minced celery
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12 ounces meatloaf mix
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, tomatoes
  • 1 pound fettuccine or linguini
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
How to Make It
  1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add meatloaf mix and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in milk and simmer until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in wine, bring to simmer, and cook until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and reserved tomato juice and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with occasional bubble or two at surface, until liquid has evaporated, about 3 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Add sauce and remaining 2 tablespoons butter and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve with Parmesan.

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