Traditional Bolognese Sauce
Recipe type: Sauce, Dinner, Meat
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 or more
Good Bolognese sauce is one of winter's greatest pleasures. It is an essential component of from-scratch lasagna and is delicious with homemade pasta or over a bowl of polenta. This is a large batch, but because making it is such a time commitment, I like to make more than I need and keep some in the freezer.
  • 1# Ground Beef
  • 1 # Ground Pork
  • 1 # Ground Veal
  • 1½ c. Dry White Wine
  • 6 oz. Bacon or Pancetta, cut in 1 in. pieces
  • 5 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Onions
  • 2 stalks Celery
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 2 c. Red Wine
  • 2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 1 14 oz. can Italian Plum Tomatoes, crushed
  • about 8 c. Chicken Stock (homemade or low-sodium)
  1. Combine the ground beef, pork, and veal in a medium bowl. Pour the white wine over the meat and, using your fingertips, work it into the meat. Set aside.
  2. Combine the bacon and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and and process into a paste. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Cut the onions, celery, and carrot into chunks and combine in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until the vegetables are finely minced, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
  4. Place the bacon and garlic paste in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir it with a wooden spoon as the fat renders from the bacon and the garlic becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes. If the bacon starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil.
  5. Add the minced vegetables to the bacon mixture and bump the heat up to high. Sauté the vegetables until they have wilted and taken on a little color, about 5 minutes. As you do this, scrape up any little bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Push the vegetable and bacon mixture to the side, creating as large of an empty spot as possible, and add the meat. Season the meat with about ½ tsp. kosher salt and brown it, breaking up any clumps that start to form and making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir the vegetables into the browned meat as you go. The meat will throw off a lot of juice and fat to the point of almost being covered in liquid. Keep cooking, stirring often, until all of the liquid has cooked off, about 30 minutes. As the liquid level drops, lower the heat so the bottom of the pot won't burn.
  7. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a saucepan. We'll be adding it to the sauce in small increments; you'll want to keep it warm so the temperature of the sauce doesn't drop every time you make an addition. Keep it on the back burner, over low heat.
  8. Now that the liquid has cooked off of the meat, clear a small spot in the bottom of the pan and add the tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to cook by itself for a minute or 2, then stir it into the meat. Add the red wine, increase the heat, and bring to a boil. Cook off the wine, then add the crushed tomatoes. Again, let the liquid boil off.
  9. Add enough of the hot broth to cover the meat and adjust the heat to maintain a slow, steady simmer. Cover the pan. Simmer for about 3 hours, checking in on it every 15 minutes to half of an hour. As the liquid falls, add more broth, a cup or 2 at a time.
  10. When the sauce is through cooking, the meat and cooking liquid should be 1 cohesive unit (rather than meat floating in liquid). Skim the excess fat from the top. Taste. Season with freshly ground black pepper and additional salt, if needed. Use the sauce now or freeze it for later use.
Recipe by strawberryplum at