Classic Bolognese Meat Sauce (bolognaise)

Total Time
3hrs 45mins
Prep 45 mins
Cook 3 hrs

I found this in an Italian cookbook by Marcella Hazan. Its a lovely rich sauce. Its the traditional recipe for Bolognese sauce which can be served with Tagliatelle, rigatoni, conchiglie or fusilli but is never served with Spagetti in Italy!

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Put the oil, 3 tbsp butter and chopped onion in the pot, turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring the onion until it becomes translucent.
  2. Add the celery and carrot and stir for two minutes while cooking to coat them well.
  3. Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper.
  4. Cook the beef while crumbling it with a fork until the beef has lost its red colour.
  5. Add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently until the milk has completely bubbled away.
  6. Add the nutmeg.
  7. Add the wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated.
  8. Add the tomatoes and stir well. When the tomatoes start to bubble turn the heat down so that it is just simmering with the occasional bubble breaking the surface.
  9. Cook uncovered for 3 hours, stirring from time to time. While it is cooking you will find the sauce dries out so continue to add a 1/2 cup of water when necessary to stop it sticking. However there should not be water left at the end of the 3 hours. The fat will separate from the sauce and this should happen.
  10. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and toss with the pasta and rest of butter. Serve with parmesan on the side.


Most Helpful

Good, good sauce. My daughter was suffering from the side effects of chemo and I needed something that was very tasty without being spicy to tempt her appetite and satisfy my family.
I modified the recipe by using more onions, carrots, and celery (minced fine in the food processor), a can of tomato paste instead of chopped, and a can of chicken broth instead of milk. I gently simmered the sauteed vegetables, meat, and liquids (pinch of thyme and salt also) for about 1 1/2 hours so the flavors could build.
Then I made a bechamel sauce (1/4 cup of butter and flour, pinch of nutmeg and 2 cups milk), stirred 15 ounces of ricotta and a one pound bag of chopped spinach. Mixed this sauce with one pound of tender-cooked rigatoni and layered the sauced pasta with the Bolognese sauce and Parmesan cheese. Baked it for a lovely finish.
Delicious enough for all the family to enjoy (I'm southern Italian and we tend to cook "molte robusto"), and gentle enough for my poor kiddo with a sick stomach and throat issues.
That's therapeutic cooking at its best!

Montana Ma April 03, 2012

This is so good! What a wonderful sauce. The only thing I did different was use Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of Vegetable oil and I left out the celery and carrots because my husband hates them! I followed everything else and it was fantastic! I will definitely make this again.

ChefAmanda February 05, 2009

This holiday season my sister & brother in law were kind enough to let us stay, even though they have a new baby and a hyper four year old to deal with. We decided cooking them a simple but luxurious dinner was a good way to say thank you (and make their lives easier,) and I chose this recipe to try out. What a treat. It was rich, hearty, simple (we found all the ingredients in their small-town grocery) and not only did the adults adore it, but the picky little one loved it too. "I don't hate tomatoes anymore!" the four year old raved. Great sucess overall! I followed the recipe almost exactly, with perhaps a heavier hand on the wine and tomatoes than it calls for, using that moisture instead of water as the sauce simmered. Add a simple salad and garlic bread, this is bound to be a hit. Thanks!

Gruner Veltliner January 02, 2009

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