Bolognese Sauce is often featured in Italian restaurants and when made correctly, this is absolutely delicious!
Bolognese sauce, or "ragù alla bolognese" is a hearty and flavorful meat sauce with a subtle Italian flavor and has no broth or liquid -it's a very rich, thick meat sauce that relies upon the vegetables, meats, seasonings, cream and wine for it's delicious flavor and texture!
It's typically served over a thick strand pasta like Tagliatelle, which is similar to Fettuccine, but you can use any pasta you prefer!
This recipe is remiscient of Marcella Hazan's original recipe. I took a few liberty's in the ingrendient structure, but it's still delicious!
What is Bolognese sauce?
Bolognese sauce is a rich, Italian meat sauce that incorporates sauteed vegetables, seasonings and heavy cream. Typically, Bolognese sauce is a tad thinner than it's even thicker cousin, "ragu sauce."
It's a bit different from typical American meat sauces in that it has no beef broth or stock, and has minimal tomato flavor.
Why you'll love it
- Subtle flavor: not "over the top Italian" with lots of Italian herbs
- Simple ingredients: what makes this Italian dish so good is the addition of carrots, nutmeg, cream and red wine
- All-natural: no preservatives, additives or fake stuff
What you'll need
Bolognese Sauce Ingredients are: carrots, celery, onion, garlic, red wine, tomato paste, nutmeg, cream, ground beef, ground Italian sausage, basil and Parmesan cheese for garnish.
Note: there is no liquid (like stock or broth) included in this traditional meat sauce.
It may seem odd to add carrots to an Italian red pasta sauce, but believe it or not, the carrots add a tiny bit of sweetness.
The hint of nutmeg provides a bit of a smoky flavor, resulting in a meaty red sauce to die for!
The red wine gives a bit of substance and depth and further tenderizes the meat.
How to make it
The secret to making a really good meat sauce is to use high quality ingredients and organic carrots.
Organic carrots offer a hint of sweetness to the bolognese sauce, more than conventional carrots. Here are the basic steps for making homemade Bolognese sauce:
Brown and drain meat
Add tomato paste to meat and onion mixture
Add heavy cream
Difference between Meat and Bolognese sauce?
Generally speaking, the primary difference between these two sauces is the inclusion or absence of liquid, usually in the form of beef broth.
The only liquids in Bolognese sauce are milk (or cream) and red wine. Traditional meat sauces are thinner and include beef broth or beef stock.
In terms of flavor, Bolognese sauce is a subtle Italian meat sauce due to the inclusion of carrots and milk. Note there aren't a lot of typical Italian seasonings in the recipe and the hearty meat sauce sticks well to any kind of pasta!
Traditional "American-Italian" meat sauces often includes a host of Italian seasonings which may include thyme, oregano and/or basil.
How long do I cook it?
Bolognese sauce can be ready in about 35 minutes, however, for the flavors to fully marry, let the rich, meaty tomato sauce simmer for at least 45 minutes.
Generally, I cook the sauce for an hour for a fully flavored meat sauce.
What kind of red wine should I use?
I always say, when cooking with wine, "use a wine you'd drink," however, if you don't drink wine, a nice red blend works well in this Bolognese sauce recipe.
You might use a Cabernet, Merlot or Pinto Noir.
When properly re-sealed, red wine holds up for about three months, so you can use a splash here and there in other recipes.
The point it, the red wine does not need to be expensive, but a red cooking wine is not recommended simply because it doesn't offer the same flavor profile as a non-cooking red wine.
Suggestions for leftover Bolognese Sauce
If you have some meat sauce leftover, use it to make Lasagne or stuffed shells, like Cannelloni or Manicotti!
If you can't get to Italy fast enough, make a big batch of this this traditional Bolognese sauce and serve with a crisp green salad and some warm bread!
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If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a rating and comment. I love to hear from you! Thank you!
Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce
- 1 pound ground beef , lean ground beef (90/10)
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage , mild or spicy
- 2 tablespoons butter , salted or unsalted
- ½ cup milk or heavy cream , 2% or whole
- 1 tablespoon oil , canola, vegetable or Olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- ⅔ cup chopped celery
- ⅔ cup chopped carrot
- 2 tablespoons garlic , chopped or minced
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon basil , chopped (for garnish-optional)
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- ½ cup red wine
- Parmesan cheese grated (as garnish)
- salt- to taste
- Dice onion, celery and carrot½ cup chopped yellow onion, ⅔ cup chopped celery, ⅔ cup chopped carrot
Make the Sauce
- Add oil and butter to large stockpot; add chopped carrots, onion and celery; saute for 8 minutes2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon oil, ½ cup chopped yellow onion, ⅔ cup chopped carrot, ⅔ cup chopped celery
- Add ground beef and pork to vegetbles to same stockpot; cook until beef and pork are browned (no visible pink) (See Recipe Notes: "Cook the Meat")1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ground Italian sausage
- Add garlic, red wine, tomato paste, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaves to stockpot; combine well½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 tablespoons garlic, 2 dried bay leaves, 3 ounces tomato paste, ½ cup red wine, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Stir in milk or cream (See Recipe Notes: "Milk or Cream")½ cup milk or heavy cream
- Cover and allow to simmer at least 30 minutes; add additional pepper and salt to tastesalt- to taste
- Remove bay leaves; serve over cooked pasta of your choice; garnish with basil and Parmesan cheeseParmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon basil