Saturday, July 20 2024

Bolognese meat sauce is one of the iconic recipes of Italian cuisine around the world.

Born in the heart of Emilia-Romagna, this meat sauce is used to season “iconic” and familiar traditional dishes.

Lasagna al forno (baked lasagna), gnocchi, and fresh pasta such as tagliatelle or pappardelle are pasta dishes that we all associate with family gatherings, special occasions, and holidays, and all are perfect for seasoning with this traditional sauce!

This recipe has spanned the centuries and has been passed down to us from generation to generation.

Every family has its own secret on how to make the perfect ragù.

There is even a recipe filed with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce, underscoring how important Bolognese sauce is in Italian culinary culture!

I prepared a simple ragù bolognese with a few ingredients that are easy to find at the supermarket and butcher shop, following my grandmother’s recipe.

First we will have to brown the “sweet pancetta” by itself, then add a drizzle of oil and sauté a chopped celery, onion and carrot for good.

At that point we add the meat, which we will cook for about ten minutes, fading halfway through cooking with red wine.

We then add the tomato puree, season with salt and pepper and cook for about an hour and a half.

In the final stage of cooking we will pour the milk into the pot and let it absorb while stirring for another 5-10 minutes.



Prep. Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time:  1 h 55 m

Total Time: 2 h 5 m

  • 18 oz of ground beef
  • 5 oz of Pancetta dolce (sweet pancetta), diced
  • 1 ⅔ cups tomato puree
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Fine salt, to taste

We pour the “pancetta” into a saucepan and brown it over high heat to make it release some of its fat.

We add a drizzle of oil and add the chopped celery, carrot and onion.

We sauté and wilt the vegetables.

We also put the ground meat in the saucepan, stir and brown for 5 minutes, then deglaze with red wine and let it go for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

We combine the tomato puree and add salt and pepper to taste.

We cook on a very low flame with the lid on for at least an hour and a half.

After the time has elapsed, our ragout will have thickened well. We give it a few stirrings and add the milk.

We continue stirring with the heat on for another 5-10 minutes, until we get a smooth sauce with an almost creamy consistency.

And here it is ready: let’s use our  bolognese sauce as desired to season our favorite pasta!


Although sometimes in the various recipes for this delicious meat sauce some details change, they all agree on how long the bolognese should cook.

It needs to be cooked for a long time and proceed over very low heat to let the sauce season and thicken without burning it.

Let’s take at least two hours for just the cooking and don’t be in a hurry.

Grandma’s Bolognese sauce started out as a poor man’s dish, although it may not seem so.

It was prepared with a mix of the few leftover meat you had and the recipe changed a little bit from time to time.

We used ground beef, but we can also make a mixture of pork and beef of our choice.

The milk in the Bolognese sauce is put in to give it a slightly sweet note and dampen the acidity of the tomato sauce. If we prepare it for people with lactose intolerance, we can use a lactose-free milk.


Since the preparation of the original Bolognese sauce is quite long, for convenience we can make plenty and stock up. What we do not use right away can be stored so that it is ready for the next time.

Let’s prepare it, let it cool completely and protrude it inside airtight containers.

In the refrigerator it will keep good for two or three days.

On the other hand, if we freeze it, we can consume our Bolognese sauce within two months without any problems.

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