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Best Bolognese Sauce. Slow simmered to flavourful perfection!

The best Bolognese sauce is not a tomato sauce, it is a deep richly flavoured beef sauce with very few ingredients & takes it’s time simmering to perfection.

The Best Bolognese Sauce in bowl with linguine. Square image.

The Best Bolognese Sauce

Our family favourite.

There are so many recipes out there for the best Bolognese sauce and with such a much loved traditional recipe, there is no wonder that so many variations of it available. Italians can be quite fierce in their opinions about what constitutes a proper Bolognese sauce; is milk added?…oregano? …basil? …other herbs? ..tomato sauce or tomato paste?

Ask any of those questions and you are going to get answers…and probably lots of them. So, with so many differing opinions, I’m going to ignore most of them and give you our family’s most loved Bolognese Sauce recipe.

The Best Bolognese Sauce in bowl with linguine.

The Best Bolognese Sauce

The Bolognese Sauce that our family really loves concentrates on simplicity, slow cooking, and modest seasoning. Most importantly though is the approach that, even though it does contain tomatoes, it is a meat sauce and not a tomato sauce.

Since I like to simmer my sauce for a long time to concentrate the flavour, I do not use tomato paste but canned San Marzano tomatoes, my favourite, which I puree in the blender.

In addition to red wine, I also use some beef stock in order to allow for a longer simmering time and to deepen the rich beefy flavour of the sauce.  This particular batch actually simmered very slowly for almost four hours, to be served as one of our most loved Sunday suppers. It is well worth the time.

The Best Bolognese Sauce photo with artisan bread and a glass of red wine

The Best Bolognese Sauce

The best bolognese sauce deserves the best cheese!

Serve with plenty of very good grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Our family’s preference is the best Parmagiano Reggiano cheese we can find, freshly grated over the top. There is no such thing as too much.

This recipe produces a very thick, rich, intensely flavoured sauce which we serve over tagliatelle, spaghetti or for my son Noah, almost always penne.

Bolognese Sloppy Joes

Bolognese Sloppy Joes

Leftover sauce at our house can get used to make the absolute best lasagne or even Bolognese Sloppy Joes with some provolone cheese melted over the meat sauce and served on toasted crusty bread. I recommend you plan for leftovers, especially those sloppy Joes; they are so delicious!

Parmesan Rinds for the best bolognese sauce

Parmesan Rinds for the best bolognese sauce

Tips

Do you throw out the rinds from Parmesan cheese?

Stop! Save them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for the next time you make Bolognese sauce and drop 2 or 3 in as soon as the sauce begins to simmer.

People will wonder what the secret is to your delicious Bolognese. Our motto here at Rock Recipes is “No flavour left behind!”

Coarse Ground Beef Chuck Blade Roast

Coarse Ground Beef Chuck/Blade Roast

Another tip I like to pass along is, if you can, grind chuck/blade roast to make you own ground beef for this recipe. I have been doing this for years and could never go back.

Chuck/blade is one of the most flavourful cuts of beef and is perfect for burgers too. Plus you can trim it to your liking before grinding to control the amount of fat!

The Best Bolognese Sauce. Image with title text.

Originally published September 2013. Updated Oct 2020.

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The Best Bolognese Sauce in bowl with linguine. Square image.
Yield: 10 servings, approximately.

Best Bolognese Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

The best Bolognese sauce is not a tomato sauce, it is a deep richly flavoured beef sauce with very few ingredients & takes it's time simmering to perfection.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 ounces finely diced pancetta or bacon
  • 3 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 cups pureed canned tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 3 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 pounds fresh or dried pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large dutch oven or small stock pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and chopped pancetta or bacon. Cook until the pancetta or bacon is almost crispy.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, celery and carrots and cook until the onions have softened and begin to caramelize to a light brown color, stirring often.
  3. Add the ground beef, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook until the beef is well browned.
  4. Add the pureed tomatoes, wine, beef stock, milk and bay leaves. Stir.
  5. Cover and bring to a slow simmer.
  6. Simmer very gently, stirring occasionally for 3 to 4 hours. If you feel you need to add more beef stock, that's fine but you may want to turn down the heat if the liquid is boiling away too rapidly. A slow simmer is important here.
  7. The liquid should be almost completely gone at the end and the meat sauce will be quite thick. Stir in the Parmesan or Romano cheese.
  8. Serve over or tossed with cooked pasta topped with lots of freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Notes

Nutritional values are for the sauce alone.

The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.

Nutrition Information

Yield

10

Serving Size

1 g

Amount Per Serving Calories 445Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 8gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 105mgSodium 882mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 2gSugar 7gProtein 39g

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Vicki

Thursday 24th of February 2022

This is a fantastic sauce! A new favorite for sure! I followed it exactly except I didn’t have nutmeg so put in cinnamon! Thank you so much!! Love your recipes!

karen

Wednesday 7th of October 2020

Wondering if the fat from the ground beef should be drained? Even when I buy the leanest grind there is always some fat.

Barry C. Parsons

Monday 12th of April 2021

I generally do.

Jeff Wachtel

Monday 20th of April 2020

This looks like a phenomenal recipe...one question. Do you keep it covered for the entire simmering time or just partially or uncovered? Thanks!!

Barry C. Parsons

Monday 12th of April 2021

I generally leave it uncovered. The sauce does need to reduce quite a bit.

Gail

Saturday 12th of October 2019

This is the best bolognese sauce I have ever eaten. The long slow simmer, rinds add a further depth and are the cook's treat, and good homemade beef broth and red wine certainly blend into a heavenly sauce. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

Donna

Friday 23rd of March 2018

Spaghetti has always been my most favourite meals sonce childhood. I love to cook my sauce for hours just like my Mother did. This recipe sounds so delicious . I want to try this asap. Donna

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