Bolognese sauce is a classic Italian sauce for pasta made with ground meat such as beef or pork, slow cooked with a soffritto of onions, carrots, and celery, tomatoes, and milk to give it a creamy texture.
The sauce comes from the Bologna region of Italy, hence the name. Given the cultural history of this sauce, there are many variations, but they all seem to follow a basic structure of ground meat, a soffritto, a bit of tomato, some milk, and long, slow cooking.
This Bolognese sauce is a family recipe of one of our readers and is used in our Lasagna Bolognese recipe. Slow cooked for at least a couple of hours, the sauce is deep, rich, flavorful and worth the extra effort!
This sauce recipe includes ground beef, pork, and Italian sausage, which is essentially seasoned ground pork and pork fat. To start, you sweat the soffritto of minced onions, celery, and carrots with pancetta in butter. Then you add the ground meat to brown it, and sprinkle with ground clove, cinnamon, and pepper.
Add tomatoes, then milk, and simmer for at least 2 hours on low heat. Keep adding water if too much liquid simmers away.
Of course you can skip the long slow cooking if you want (we have a quick Bolognese recipe) but the flavor definitely improves with the longer cooking.
Bolognese sauce is traditionally served with fresh tagliatelle pasta, but you can also serve it with fettucine, pappardelle, penne, or other pasta.
Classic Bolognese Sauce for Pasta Recipe
- 2 oz. Diced pancetta, finely chopped
- 1 medium Spanish onion or yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 11 oz ground beef
- 4 oz ground pork
- 4 oz ground Italian sausage
- 1 freshly ground clove
- Dash of freshly ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds peeled and chopped tomatoes (or 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, packed in water)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Make the soffritto: Combine pancetta, onion, celery, and carrot in sauté pan with butter and cook over medium heat until onion turns pale gold.
2 Add the ground beef, pork, sausage: Add the beef, pork, sausage to the soffritto, and cook until browned.
3 Add the spices: Sprinkle with the clove, cinnamon, and pepper.
4 Add the tomatoes and simmer: Stir in tomatoes, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. If you are using whole canned tomatoes, break them up as you add them to the sauce.
5 Add milk, salt, simmer for 2 hours: Add milk and season with sea salt. Then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 and 1/2 hours. Stir at least every 20 minutes.
Whenever the sauce gets too dry and starts sticking to the pan, just add 1/4 cup of water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Can easily freeze for future use.
Serve with pasta.
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