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Classic Bolognese

Classic Bolognese

Everyone does meat sauce...right? Everyone and everyone's grandmother has their own version. In my opinion, bolognese is the king of all meat sauces. It is a creamier, richer version of what you might typically whip up. That richness comes from hours of simmering and the addition of full-fat milk that sets it apart from a more "mainstream" meat sauce. Traditionally, bolognese does not even contain tomatoes! But we will add them here. This recipe is my version of bolognese. It is the version I made the first time I threw a dinner party for my Italian [then] boyfriend and 10 (TEN!) of his friends in our little apartment in Florence, Italy. I was 1 month into culinary school at the time. Anyone can do it. It just takes a little patience, a lot of love, and the right ingredients. Here you are!

Ingredients for the Sauce (for 6 plus some):

  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 9 tbsp butter
  • 1.5 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped carrot
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
  • ¾ pound ground Italian sausage
  • ­­­Salt + Pepper
  • Generous sprinkling of dried oregano, parsley, and basil
  • 3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp Ground nutmeg
  • A good mix of dry oregano, basil, and parsley
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 4 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 4 pounds pasta (See below)
  • Freshly grated Pecorino OR Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (at the table)



  • Put the oil, butter in a heavy, large saucepan and melt on medium high heat
  • Add the chopped onion and a generous pinch of salt
  • Cook the onion, stirring periodically, until it has become translucent
  • Add the chopped celery and carrot and sauté for another ~2 minutes until veggies to come together, coated in butter...yum!
  • Add ground beef and sausage + a large pinch of salt and course, cracked pepper
  • Brown the meat
  • Add milk 1 cup at a time. Let each cup simmer gently until it evaporates. It is important to stir consistently so that the milk has a lesser chance of curdling 
  • Add the nutmeg + dry herbs and stir
  • Add the wine 1 cup at a time and let it simmer until it has evaporated, just like the milk 
  • Add the tomatoes and stir to incorporate
  • When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at a LOW simmer
  • Simmer (uncovered) for 1.5 hours or more, stirring occasionally
    • NOTE: If you find your sauce starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a ½ cup of water, stir, and keep simmering
  • When it’s time to serve, cook your pasta of choice (make sure to HEAVILY salt your pasta water), drain the pasta (reserving some pasta water), and add the sauce along with as much pasta water as you need to help the sauce bind to the pasta * 


* ALWAYS RESERVE A LARGE COFFE MUG OR 2 OF YOUR PASTA WATER! Pasta water contains a lot of starch, which helps the past bind to the sauce...whatever sauce it is! So make sure to keep some pasta water on hand when you are saucing your pasta.


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