January 30, 2013

Classic Bolognese Meat Sauce

Although a traditional marinara sauce is delicious in its own right, it is sometimes nice to add a new pasta sauce recipe to your repertoire. Today’s recipe for Classic Bolognese Meat Sauce is a rich, decadent option, and one that is perfect for a cold winter night. Served over penne rigate and topped with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese, this is a recipe your entire family is sure to love!

Note: When this sauce, which is also known as a ragu, is finished cooking, the meat itself provides the body for the sauce and there should be very little liquid remaining. 

Classic Bolognese Meat Sauce

Serves 12
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 4 hours
Total time 4 hours, 30 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Freezable
Region Italian


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Large onion (chopped)
  • 2 Medium carrots (chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/2lb ground pork
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup red wine
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 28oz canned whole tomatoes (chopped, juices reserved)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves


Step 1
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Place the onion, carrot and celery in the heated pot; season with a generous pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute until the onion is golden and the other vegetables are softened. Add the garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes or so. Add the tomato paste, stirring to coat the vegetables, and saute for 1 minute.
Step 2
Add the ground beef and pork to the pot, and season with an additional pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon to gently break up the meat, and cook until the meat has lost its raw, red color. (The meat will not be entirely cooked through at this stage.) Add the milk, and bring it to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently, until it has reduced by about half. Stir in the grated nutmeg.
Step 3
Add the wine and bring it to a steady simmer. Simmer to reduce the liquid slightly before adding the tomatoes and their juices. Stir thoroughly to incorporate all of the ingredients. Stir in the thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and additional pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon or so of pepper.
Step 4
Reduce the heat to very low so that the sauce is at a very gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally. If the sauce gets too dry as it cooks, add 1/2 cup of water to the pot to prevent it from sticking. (When the sauce is finished cooking, however, no water should remain.) Taste the sauce, and season to taste with additional salt, if desired. Toss sauce with cooked, drained pasta, and serve with a generous grating of Parmesan.

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7 Responses to Classic Bolognese Meat Sauce

  1. Amanda @ Serenity Now January 30, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    YUM! I love that this is freezable. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Amy!

    • Amy @ Positively Splendid January 30, 2013 at 11:08 am #

      Thanks, Amanda! It is nice to prepare something that you can freeze to enjoy later.

  2. Kara January 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Oh man, it is lunch time, and now I am drooling. This looks super yummy!

  3. Meredith @ Wait Til Your Father Gets Home January 30, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    YUM! Your recipe sounds fantastic! I just pinned it to use next week :o)

  4. Crystal January 30, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Yummy!! Looks delicious!!

  5. Beverly {Flamingo Toes} January 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    This looks great Amy! We love pasta nights – this will be fun to try!

  6. ga447 February 2, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    I can’t wait to make this recipe, pasta and sauce is such a great hit with my family. I will share with my sons family.

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