October:Bolognese Sauce

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Bolognese Sauce finish with script

Buon giorno!

One of my favorite regions of Italy is Emilia-Romagna – an area perhaps most prominent as a source for the most common and revered of Italian cooking ingredients. This is the land of Parma Ham, Balsamic Vinegar, tortellini, sfoglia, Parmigiano-Reggiano and on and on. It is no wonder that it is often called the “gastronomic heart” of Italy. Many of its signature recipes are rich in butter in lieu of olive oil and lean less on tomatoes. Strangely, you find fewer of Italy’s well known wines coming from this region.

Perhaps the most famous recipe of the region is Bolognese Sauce  – a sauce that has become one so notoriously ill-prepared in the US. So often, it is portrayed on menus as the real deal when the resulting sauce contains no more than tomato sauce and ground beef. Do NOT be fooled! These imposters do not even come close to the complexity of flavor in an authentic Bolognese Sauce which traditionally has very little tomato and includes a combination of meats, butter, and even milk or cream – all cooked “low and slow” – only to deliver the richest flavor one can imagine in a sauce for pasta.

Recipes for this sauce will vary in their use of bacon, pancetta, or sausage. This recipe calls for both Pancetta and sausage. You will notice that the authentic recipes for this sauce do not use tomatoes – but opt for tomato paste instead.

Traditionally, this sauce is served over Tagliatelle Pasta or Bucatini. In my view, this sauce is best served over homemade Tagliatelle!

When made properly, this sauce is one of Italy’s most memorable. In short, it is splendid!


Makes: sauce for about 1 lb. pasta

Prep: about 30 minutes

Cook: about 1 3/4 hours


3 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/4 lb. chopped Pancetta (or bacon)

1 onion, chopped small

1 Carrot or 5 baby Carrots, chopped small

1 Stalk Celery, chopped small

2 Cloves, fresh garlic, chopped finely

1/2 lb. Ground Pork

1/2 lb. Ground Beef

1/4 lb. Loose Sweet Italian Sausage meat

1 cup Dry White Wine – Dry Vermouth is good

1/4 Cup Tomato Paste

1 Cup Beef stock or broth

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

2 Tbsp. Butter

Salt if desired

Fresh Flat Leaf Italian Parsley – chopped coarsely for garnish


In a pot,cook the Pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, in the butter and oil until the vegetables are tender.

Bolognese Sauce 1

Then add all of the meats, browning them, while breaking them up with a fork.

Bolognese Sauce 2

Add the wine, scraping the bits from the pan bottom and cook a couple of minutes at medium high.

Add the beef stock or broth, reserving a little of it to mix with the tomato paste to dilute it – Then add the paste and broth to the pot also.

Bolognese Sauce 3

Stir well and cover. Bring to bubbling and reduce the heat to low, covered, letting it simmer for 1 1/2 hours. For a denser sauce with less liquid, uncover the last 1/2 hour!

Now add the cream and let cook on medium-low for a couple of minutes. Add the butter and allow to melt in, stirring.

Taste for seasoning. Salt to taste – you may not need any!

Pour over cooked pasta: tagliatelle or bucatini (perciatelli) are traditional choices.

Garnish with fresh Italian parsley.

I like to serve Barbera d’Alba with Bolognese Sauce.


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