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    Homemade Ragù alla Bolognese Recipe

    Published November 3, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This incredible Italian homemade Bolognese Sauce Recipe is slow-cooked with tomatoes and herbs for an unbelievable pasta or lasagna sauce. I can’t even begin to tell you how flavorful and authentic this sauce is, and I guarantee you will love it.

    As an Italian, I love pasta tossed in simple-to-prepare full-flavored sauces. There’s just nothing like it. If you’re the same, then you must try my Pomodoro Sauce or Alfredo Sauce.

    bolognese pasta


     

    Bolognese

    Bolognese is a thick meat sauce that is indigenous to the northern region of Italy, known as Bologna. Ragù all Bolognese traditionally has beef, onions, celery, carrots, wine, and milk for the sauce. While not all ragus have it, it can also commonly have pork or pancetta in addition to the beef. When the word ragù is coupled with “alla bolognese,” it is about pasta or another sauced dish. Ragù comes from the French word ragoûter, which means to stimulate the appetite.

    There are some variations of this sauce, including herbs and spices, that can be added to enhance the flavors or to tailor it to one’s liking. This sauce requires some time to prep and time to cook before it’s finished. Do not expect to finish this bolognese in a few hours, and remember it will get better with time, so don’t be surprised if it is better the next day.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    bolognese ingredients
    • Beef – I used beef chuck that I finely minced by hand. Other options are short rib or brisket. In addition, you can purchase pre-ground chuck or make your own Homemade Ground Beef. The classic meat to use would be veal, although it is expensive and hard to find.
    • Pork – It is best to use pork belly for this. You can substitute with fresh ground pork as well.
    • Onions – You can use red, white, yellow, or sweet onions.
    • Celery – This is used as the vegetable base in the sauce.
    • Carrots – You will need some fresh carrots for the sauce.
    • Garlic – This is optional and not necessarily classic, but I like a few cloves.
    • Wine – You can use any good dry red or white wine. I like to use Sangiovese for red or Pinot Grigio for white.
    • Tomatoes – I prefer to hand-crush whole-peeled San Marzano tomatoes. However, you can crush regular whole peeled tomatoes, use pre-crushed tomatoes, or use home-canned tomatoes. You will also need the sauce that is in cans.  
    • StockBeef stock will add great flavors to the Bolognese sauce. You can also use water.
    • Milk – This sauce is finished with whole milk. You can substitute with half and half. I would not use a low-fat milk for this.
    • Bay Leaves – This is optional, but the flavors and aromatics they add are fantastic.
    • Rosemary – Another optional ingredient to add for flavor. You can use 6-8 leaves of fresh basil instead.
    • Cloves – Some whole cloves make this sauce delicious.
    • Oil – Use olive oil in this recipe. You can also use a neutral-flavored oil.

    How to Make a Bolognese Sauce

    Mince the beef and pork belly.

    mincing beef

    Mince the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic.

    mincing carrots

    Add the olive oil to a large pot or rondeau over high heat and heat it until it begins to smoke lightly.

    adding olive oil to a rondeau

    Add in the beef spread it out around the pan, and sear for 2 minutes.

    cooking beef

    Stir the beef and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until it is finished cooking. Transfer it to a large bowl.

    setting cooked beed to the side

    Place the pork into the pan over high heat, spread it out, and sear for 2 minutes.

    cooking pork

    Stir the pork, turn the heat down to medium-low, and render the fat while occasionally stirring. This usually takes about 10 to 12 minutes.

    fat in a pan from pork

    Remove the pork leaving the rendered fat in the pot, and set it in the bowl with the cooked minced beef.

    setting cooked pork to the side

    Add in the onions and caramelize on low heat for 45 to 60 minutes while occasionally stirring.

    caramelizing onions in a pot

    Pour in the carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender but still slightly firm on the outside.

    cooking carrots and celery

    Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 to 45 seconds or until fragrant.

    adding garlic to a pot

    Mix back in the cooked beef and pork, along with the bay leaves and cloves.

    adding bay leaf

    Deglaze with red wine, turn the heat to high and frequently stir until the wine is almost gone and absorbed, or au sec.

    deglazing bolognese with wine

    Add in the tomatoes and beef stock and stir to combine. Place on a lid and simmer over low heat for 3 hours. Stir every 45 to 60 minutes. It should be a thick, rich sauce at this point.

    bolognese in a pot

    Pour in the milk and mix to combine.

    adding milk to bolognese

    Add in optional rosemary sprig, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook uncovered over low heat for 60-90 minutes. It will have a rich creaminess to it when it’s finished.

    rosemary in bolognese

    Cook the pasta according to its instructions and gently mix in a pan or bowl with some of the bolognese sauce using a rubber spatula.

    tossing pasta with bolognese

    Serve with a generous garnish of freshly grated parmigiano Reggiano.

    bolognese on a plate

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: For freshness, you can make this up to 2 days before serving it. Please keep it in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving it and reheat it until hot in a pot.

    How to Store: To store the Bolognese sauce, cool it in an ice bath in your sink or transfer it to a refrigerator and cool it uncovered until it is cold about 3-4 hours. Cover it and keep it in there for up to 5 days. This will also freeze well and be covered for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1 day in the refrigerator before reheating.

    How to Reheat: Add your desired amount of Bolognese to a medium-sized pot and cook over low heat until hot.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • Feel free to use all beef or all pork if you do not want to use the combination.
    • You can finely mince the onions, celery, or carrots in a food processor instead of chopping by hand.
    • Any shape of pasta is great to serve with this.
    • Other great red wines to use are Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. A white wine I also like to cook with is chardonnay.
    •  You will need a 2 to 2 ½ gallon stainless steel pot or Dutch oven.
    • The amount of minced onions should total around 3 cups. In addition, the amount of minced carrots and celery will be about 2 cups each. It is totally fine if it’s off by a few tablespoons in either direction. It will not impact the final sauce.

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    Homemade Ragù alla Bolognese Recipe

    5 from 16 votes
    This incredible Italian homemade Bolognese Sauce Recipe is slow-cooked with tomatoes and herbs for an unbelievable pasta or lasagna sauce.
    Servings: 24 servings
    Prep Time: 1 minute
    Cook Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 Pounds finely minced beef chuck
    • 2 pounds finely minced pork belly
    • 2 large peeled finely minced yellow onions
    • 3 finely minced carrots
    • 8 finely minced ribs of celery
    • 4 finely minced cloves of garlic
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 4 cloves
    • 2 cups dry red wine
    • 2 –28-ounce cans hand crushed whole San Marzano tomatoes
    • 1 ½ cups beef stock
    • 2 ½ cups whole milk
    • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, optional
    • coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

    Instructions

    • Add the olive oil to a large pot or rondeau over high heat and heat it until it begins to smoke lightly.
    • Add in the beef spread it out around the pan, and sear for 2 minutes.
    • Stir the beef and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until it is finished cooking. Transfer it to a large bowl.
    • Place the pork into the pan over high heat spread it out, and sear for 2 minutes.
    • Stir the pork, turn the heat to medium-low, and render the fat while occasionally stirring. This usually takes about 10 to 12 minutes.
    • Using a slotted spoon remove the pork leaving the rendered fat in the pot, and set it in the bowl with the cooked minced beef.
    • Add onions and caramelize on low heat for 45 to 60 minutes while occasionally stirring. They will be browned, tender, and sweet.
    • Pour in the carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender but still slightly firm on the outside.
    • Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 to 45 seconds or until fragrant.
    • Mix back in the cooked beef and pork, along with the bay leaves and cloves.
    • Deglaze with red wine, turn the heat high, and frequently stir until the wine is almost gone and absorbed, or au sec.
    • Add in the tomatoes and beef stock and stir to combine. Place on a lid and simmer over low heat for 3 hours. Stir every 45 to 60 minutes. It should be a thick rich sauce at this point.
    • Pour in the milk and mix to combine.
    • Add in optional rosemary sprig, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook uncovered over low heat for 60-90 minutes. It will have a rich creaminess to it when it’s finished.
    • Cook the pasta according to its instructions and gently mix in a pan or bowl with some of the bolognese sauce using a rubber spatula.
    • Serve with a generous garnish of freshly grated parmigiano Reggiano.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: For freshness, you can make this up to 2 days before serving it. Please keep it in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving it and reheat it until hot in a pot.
    How to Store: To store the Bolognese sauce, cool it in an ice bath in your sink or transfer it to a refrigerator and cool it uncovered until it is cold about 3-4 hours. Cover it and keep it in there for up to 5 days. This will also freeze well and be covered for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1 day in the refrigerator before reheating.
    How to Reheat: Add your desired amount of Bolognese to a medium-sized pot and cook over low heat until hot.
    Feel free to use all beef or all pork if you do not want to use the combination.
    You can finely mince the onions, celery, or carrots in a food processor instead of chopping by hand.
    Any shape of pasta is great to serve with this.
    Other great red wines to use are Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. A white wine I also like to cook with is chardonnay.
    You will need a 2 to 2 ½ gallon stainless steel pot or Dutch oven.
    The amount of minced onions should total around 3 cups. In addition, the amount of minced carrots and celery will be about 2 cups each. It is totally fine if it’s off by a few tablespoons in either direction. It will not impact the final sauce.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 328kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 12gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 148mgPotassium: 401mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1425IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 1mg
    Course: Main Entree, sauce
    Cuisine: Italian