recipe for Authentic Bolognese sauce

This from scratch recipe for authentic bolognese sauce with three types of meat, will soon be the only pasta sauce your family will request.

a platter of rigatoni and pasta sauce

What makes authentic bolognese?

The most important part of the recipe is the Sofrito– or carrots, celery and garlic and onions. Sauté them well until soft. Do not rush this step in the cooking. This is a sauce that takes time to develop. Sip a glass of wine while cooking- enjoy the process.

Tomatoes– tomato puree is preferred over whole canned tomatoes which contain too much water and can thin out your sauce. I jar my own puree every summer, but store bought is…fine. I do use canned tomatoes to make la salsa di 5 minuti. This is the base for the rest of the Bolognese and it can take being on the stove for a bit to thin out.

Cream or milk– I prefer whole milk. All you need is 1/3 cup. Feel free to omit the milk, but it adds a complex richness to the sauce.

Wine– I add in white wine, (just because there is so much beef and I prefer a lighter wine for the sauce) but most recipes call for a bold red. Use the same wine you are serving with this dish- perhaps a Chianti Classico. My favorite wine to pair with this sauce is a Lambrusco.

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Ingredients in this Recipe for Authentic Bolognese Sauce:

  • olive oil
  • basalmic vinegar
  • plum tomatoes
  • tomato puree
  • garlic
  • onion
  • carrots
  • celery
  • fresh basil
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh Italian parsley
  • red pepper flakes, kosher salt, flakes sea salt, pepper, fennel seeds, oregano
  • ground beef, ground veal, ground pork
  • whole milk or cream
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • dry red wine or dry white wine- personal preference
a board filled with dry pasta, cheese and tomatoes

Equipment needed for this recipe:

  • large dutch oven or stock pot
  • microplane
  • sharp knife
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • 12″ skillet- buy my favorite by All-Clad HERE

Tips to make the perfect Bolognese:

  • Use only fresh garlic and herbs ( with the exception of oregano). Jarred garlic will not convey the same flavor profile as fresh garlic.
  • Chop the carrots, celery and onion by hand. It is so tempting to do this in the food processor to make your life a bit easier, but it will become a mushy mess. Those little bits of surface area on the vegetables will caramelize in the olive oil creating wonderful flavor.
  • Choose the wine carefully– this recipe traditionally calls for red wine, but I personally prefer a dry white wine. BUT-a red wine like a chianti is perfect.
  • Use beef, veal and pork with a bit of fat. This is not the time to buy lean ground beef. the fat adds a silkiness to the sauce. Drain off any extra if you’d like, but the vegetables and pasta will soak it up.
  • Do not use pre-grated cheese. Cheese in those plastic containers , (or gasp- that green container) were grated who knows how long ago. You want authentic Parmigiano Reggiano. Buy from the cheese counter at your local cheese shop or better grocery stores. Grate it fresh and add to the sauce and then grate any extra bowl for the table. Look for a cheese that has been aged at least 12-18 months.
  • Take your time. Enjoy a glass of wine while cooking. this is not a sauce that needs to be served on a Tuesday night when the kids have soccer and you have laundry to do. this sauce is for family means, holidays, when friends come over. anger. Enjoy the process.
a large skillet with carrots, celery and onions sautéing

How to serve this dish:

Here are my tips to serve this dish family style. I learned this process while making pasta with Chef Eduardo Garcia (seen in the photo below) at a recent cooking retreat in Seeley Lake, Montana.

  1. Use a large platter. Warm the platter in the oven to keep everything warm. Place a trivet or dish towel under the platter.
  2. Cook wide pasta like tagliatelle, papperdelle or rigatoni in salty water until just al dente. Reserve the pasta water and keep warm.
  3. Place several cups of sauce onto the platter.
  4. Next, add your pasta right from the hot water on top of the sauce on the platter.
  5. Place one egg yolk and a couple tablespoons of butter onto the pasta along with 1/2-1 cup of salty pasta water. Stir this mixture into the pasta and top with the remaining sauce. The heat from the sauce will cook the egg yolk and melt the butter creating a silky sauce that coats the pasta perfectly.

If you like this recipe for authentic bolognese sauce, here are more Italian inspired dishes to enjoy:

Inspiration for this recipe:

I have been a fan of Canadian born- Italian Chef, David Rocco for years. His beautifully photographed cooking show- Dolce Vita, filmed in Florence showcases the simplicity of Italian food- Keep it local, keep it fresh, keep it simple. It will always be delicious. This Bolognese sauce is based off his interpretation of this staple of Italian family meals.

I watched him years and years ago make an incredible bolognese and I have played around with the recipe and made it my own. I posted this on my Instagram last March at the height of Quarantine and the chef himself gave me a little love in the comments. That was a good day.

This is one of those sauces that once you master it, you will be able to make it in your sleep. I promise you- friends will ask for the recipe.

Recipe for Authentic Bolognese Sauce

Recipe by Meggen Arthur Wilson Course: Main Course, Montana Kitchen, MOST POPULAR RECIPESCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Medium
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

2

hours 
Cooking time

2

hours 
Calories

658

kcal

Ingredients

  • La salsa di 5 Minuti:
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 28 oz can plum tomatoes

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • Fresh Basil

  • For the Sauce
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter

  • 2 TBSP olive oil

  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped

  • 1 stalk celery with leaves, finely chopped

  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced fine

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tsp fennel seeds

  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

  • 3 TBSP fresh Italian parsley, stems removed, chopped

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped fine

  • 1/2 lb ground extra lean beef

  • 1/2 lb ground pork or sausage

  • 1/2 lb ground veal (optional)

  • 1 cup red or white wine

  • 1/3 cup whole milk or cream

  • 28 oz pureed tomatoes

  • La Salsa di 5 minuti

  • Basil or rosemary sprigs

  • 2 TBSP Balsamic vinegar

  • 2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano – grated

  • cooked pasta- cooked in salty water- reserve the water

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter

  • flakey sea salt to taste

Directions

  • Salsa di 5 minuti- five minute sauce
  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onions and sauté on low heat until translucent- about 6-7 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes. Add in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Cover. Keep warm while you make the rest of the sauce in another saucepan.
  • Bolognese
  • In a large dutch oven, sauté the carrots, celery and onions in 1 TBSP of olive oil until fragrant and translucent- about 5-7 minutes on medium high heat. Stir in the herbs- parsley, rosemary, garlic, fennel, red pepper flakes and oregano. Let the herbs cook for 2 minutes on low heat. Remove from the pot and place vegetable mixture into a bowl- keep warm. In the same pot, add 1 TBSP of olive oil . Increase heat to medium high. Add in the beef, pork and veal. Cook until well browned.
    Pat away any excess fat with a paper towel.
    Stir in white wine to deglaze the pot and loosen the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Let wine reduce for 2-3 minutes at a simmer. Add back to the pot, the vegetable mixture.
  • Add in canned pureed tomatoes. Stir in La Salsa Di 5 Minuti and simmer on low for 1 hour. Season with lots of salt and pepper.
  • Stir in milk. reduce heat to low. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, Olive oil, fresh basil leaves and the 1 cup of the grated Parmigiano- Reggiano. Serve over hot cooked pasta.

Notes

  • To serve- Place one egg yolk and a couple tablespoons of butter onto the pasta along with 1/2-1 cup of salty pasta water. Stir this mixture into the pasta and top with the remaining sauce. The heat from the sauce will cook the egg yolk and melt the butter creating a silky sauce that coats the pasta perfectly.

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One Comment

  1. Elizabeth says:

    The most amazing bolognese ever! Such a great comfort food and perfect for a family or large group (or plenty of leftovers).