Saturday, November 3, 2007

Bolognese Sauce

Ok - here it is. This is one of the dishes that I am most known for with friends and family. If you have a Saturday afternoon where you want to putter around the house and also check in periodically on its progress, this is the recipe for you.

I don't make this during the summer months - too much work and too much heat in the kitchen.

Mom made great pasta sauce but would usually start with some Prego or Ragu that she doctored with ground beef, onions and spices.

Bolognese Sauce is enchanting - an Italian mistress that you can't ignore - rich layers of red wine, beef, pork, tomatoes - all in a beautiful body.


2 large onions, chopped (should be 2-3 cups of onions)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork (or a mix of beef/veal/pork)
2 cups red wine (dry red wine such as chianti, cabernet – no zinfandel!)
3 cans tomato puree (28 ounces each)
1 small can tomato paste
1 tbsp beef broth base – concentrated beef broth or veal demi-glace
1 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Black Pepper
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp chopped garlic (optional)
Various cooked meats - chicken breast, pork chops, Italian sausage (optional)


1. In a large (7-8 qt) dutch oven, brown the meats and then drain off the resulting grease.

2. Chop the onion and place in large dutch oven with oil and butter. Cook over high heat for 3 minutes or until soft. Add all the browned meat.

3. Add wine and cook for 1 minute – deglaze the pan. Add tomato puree and tomato paste. Add Salt and Pepper.

4. Bring to boil. Lower heat to a simmer – the sauce should bubble slowly for the next 3 hours. Stir occasionally = every 30 minutes.

5. If using garlic, add the garlic during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

6. If using sausage or other meats – sear them on all sides in a frying pan or on a grill and then add during the simmer stage. They must cook for 2-3 hours.

7. This sauce is best served with a corkscrew, cavatappi or orichette style pasta – no long pasta or tubes (ziti, rigatoni).

Photo: Bolognese Sauce by Pat Kight, Flickr