Bolognese sauce is an authentic Italian meat sauce that's truly satisfying. Its rich meaty flavor is something to write home about. Making the very best bolognese is simple and well worth the time.
This rich meaty pasta sauce is commonly served with a simple tagliatelle or as a sauce with lasagna bolognese.
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Ingredients For Bolognese Sauce
Making a traditional bolognese does require a long list of ingredients, but for the most part, they are simple ingredients. Many of them are kitchen staples that you may already have in your kitchen.
Best Meat For Bolognese
This rich and hearty meat sauce is made with a combination of ground beef and pork. You'll need 1 ½ to 2 pounds of ground meat.
- Ground chuck, ground pork, and ground veal are the best meat for bolognese sauce. You can use a mixture of beef and pork. I often have ground beef and pork in the freezer, so it's usually an easy choice.
- Season with salt and black pepper.
In addition to onion and garlic, this bolognese recipe uses carrots and celery, with contributes to its rich stew-like flavor. Canned tomatoes and tomato paste add a rich and savory tomato base.
- Onion, carrot, and celery combine to make a classic mirepoix. This combination is the secret ingredient that adds rich, savory flavor to sauces, stews, and soups.
- Garlic. Fresh garlic
- Canned San Marzano tomatoes. I recommend using D.O.P.-certified San Marzano tomatoes. Their flavor is remarkably rich and tomato-y and very low in acid.
- Tomato paste adds richness to this classic tomato sauce.
- Whole milk contributes to the creamy texture and flavor of bolognese. The milk is added to the pot and then reduced.
- White wine adds subtle flavor. You can also use a dry red white in this recipe. Think something Italian like a Chianti or Brunello.
- Chicken broth helps to round out this rich sauce.
- Basil I like to add a handful of fresh basil, stems and all. After the sauce is done, remove the basil stems. You can also use dried basil or Italian seasoning if you don't have fresh basil.
- Nutmeg. Just a pinch
- Parmesan rind. The rind of parmesan cheese is often added to Italian sauces to add a complex nutty flavor. Remove the rind when the sauce is ready to serve.
How To Make Bolognese Sauce
- Prepare the vegetables. Dice the onions, carrots, and celery. Mince or press the garlic cloves. Set aside.
- Brown the meat. Add the ground meat to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Remember that the salt will become more concentrated as the sauce reduces, so don't oversalt.
- Add the diced veggies to the pan and sauté until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and allow it to cook in the meat for several minutes. Let the tomato paste brown slightly to enhance its flavor.
- Add the milk to the meat and vegetable mixture. Simmer the milk over medium heat until the milk has completely evaporated.
- Add the wine and bring the sauce to a boil. Simmer to boil off the alcohol.
- Add the tomato sauce, broth, and spices.
- Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the temperature to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 2 to 4 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bolognese is made with ground meat simmered in a rich tomato sauce.
Bolognese sauce is different from spaghetti sauce. Bolognese is a rich meat sauce with a few additional ingredients that give it its signature flavor and texture.
Carrots and celery give this sauce a savory depth. Milk is crucial for giving this sauce its signature rich flavor and creaminess to this pasta sauce.
Marinara sauce is a simple tomato sauce seasoned with garlic, basil, and olive oil. Bolognese is made with ground meat and milk that adds to its creamy flavor.
How To Store Leftover Sauce
- In the fridge: Leftover sauce can be stored in the fridge for several days.
- In the freezer: Bolognese will keep in the freezer for months. So make a double batch and freeze half.
What To Serve With This Bolognese Sauce Recipe
- Homemade pasta
- Caesar Salad
- Lasagna Bolognese
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Bolognese Sauce Recipe
- 1 lb ground chuck
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup onion diced
- ½ cup carrot diced
- ½ cup celery diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 - 28 ounce cans canned San Marzano tomatoes crushed well with your hands
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 small bunch fresh basil leaves and stems or 1 tablespoons dried basil
- 1 parmesan cheese rind
- grated parmesan reggiano for serving
- Dice the onions, carrots, and celery. Mince or press the garlic cloves. Set aside.½ cup onion, ½ cup carrot, 6 cloves garlic, ½ cup celery
- Brown the meat and season with salt and pepper.1 lb ground chuck, 1 lb ground pork, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Add the diced veggies and sauté until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and allow it to cook into the meat for several minutes. Let the tomato paste brown slightly to enhance its flavor.1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Add the milk to the meat and vegetable mixture. Simmer the milk over medium heat until the milk has completely evaporated.1 cup whole milk
- Add the wine and bring the sauce to a boil. Simmer to boil off the alcohol.1 cup white wine
- Add the tomato sauce, broth, and spices.2 - 28 ounce cans canned San Marzano tomatoes, 1 cup chicken broth, 1 small bunch fresh basil, 1 parmesan cheese rind
- Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the temperature to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 2 to 4 hours. You may need to add a little water if the sauce begins to reduce to much.
Instant Pot Bolognese
- Set the Instant Pot on sauté. Follow the instruction for browning the meat and sautéing the vegetables.
- Add the milk and reduce it.
- Add the remainder of the ingredients and seal the Instant Pot.
- Pressure cook on manual for 20 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally, serve with your favorite pasta.