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Bolognese Sauce: How do You Make Yours?

This past weekend I made a bolognese sauce using a recipe from Saveur. We were pretty disapointed as it was WAY too beefy tasting (the only meat used was beef with the exception of a small amount of chicken livers and proscuitto di parma). I also felt the sauce needed alot of seasoning where are the spices like thyme, bay leaf or nutmeg (my mom's key ingredient in her Bolognese).

I'd be interested in hearing what you guys do to make killer bolognese sauce.
Here's the ingredients we used:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
1 rib celery, trimmed and minced
1/2 medium carrot, peeled, trimmed, and minced
2–3 slices prosciutto di Parma (about 1 oz.), finely chopped
2 chicken livers, finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup hot milk
1 cup beef, veal, or chicken broth
1 28-oz. can Italian plum tomato purée


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  1. I agree with the nutmeg. I use Marcella Hazan's recipe and it epitomizes subtlety. Definitely no pronounced beefy flavor at the end.
    The key is to cook it down very, very, very slowly-this may be a factor in your results. Also, the meat should be cooked until the redness is gone. NOT browned, so no Maillard effect that definitely alters the flavor profile.
    Hope this helps!

    11 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      Monavano, my mother swears by Marcella Hazan and I believe she lifted the nutmeg from Marcella's recipe. How long do you let it cook for in total and do you use heavy cream or milk?



      1. re: SundaySauce

        I too use Marcella's recipe and I really like it. I let it cook for 3 hours at least and I've always used whole milk. I also add some chopped pancetta at the beginning although Marcella is very tyrannical (God bless her) when it comes to her recipes and would probably not approve!

        1. re: HungryRubia

          Yup, cook about 2 hours (google the recipe and you'll find it in many places).
          I use whole milk, just like Ms. Hazan says. Everyone says to follow the recipe exactly, and I did, trusting that the end product would be worth the wait.
          It is.

        2. re: SundaySauce

          i have marcella's essentials of classic italian cooking. i have never made anything out of there that was less than spectacular.

          1. re: SundaySauce

            I've used cream half and half regular milk or [hiding here] skim. I've used what I had in the house if I was making it off the cuff.

          2. re: monavano

            I use her's too but find I must add more milk towards the end or the sauce is not saucey enough. But, the flavor and slow cooking as well as the nutmeg is fabulous. It's such a hit with my family- they often don't want pasta with it !

            1. re: pbw7

              and that's my concern or difference with the milk addtion too as I add more at the last stage of cooking because I like that and it add a lighter color in the end sauce which is enjoyed too.

            2. re: monavano

              May I ask why do we not want to brown the meat in this situation? Doesn't it create more complex flavors?

              1. re: xiaobao12

                it's not part of the tradition, as it changes the flavor profile. More complex is not always better. There's a lot going on as it is.

                1. re: Karl S

                  OK - thanks for posting. I just wonder because other chowhounds have posted their versions which suggest to brown the the meat. I'm sure both taste great but in the end, does that extra step of browning really create a noticeable difference?

                  1. re: xiaobao12

                    It can. More important, it also toughens the meat; this ragu is about seducing the succulence of the meat.

            3. Sautee onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper, till soft
              add garlic + pepper flakes and sweat
              add ground beef, veal and pork, salt and pepper, cook,
              add white wine scrape bottom, reduce
              add milk reduce
              add san marzano tomatos + bit of water
              add thyme, bay leaves, grate some nutmeg
              salt + pepper
              cook 1:30/2h semi covered, add more water if it gets too dry.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Evilbanana11

                Look great, do you think there would be a difference if using milk as opposed to the heavy cream?

                1. re: Evilbanana11

                  This is what I do, too, except reverse the milk and wine. I also add a bit of tomato paste.

                2. I will shamelessly doctor any Bolognese sauce recipe with some grated lemon zest. It really seems to work well with the nutmeg. Might be worth playing around with. - Cay

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cayjohan

                    Lemon zest is excellent over braised dishes. Gremolata takes a deeply flavored dish and brightens it like nothing else.
                    Actually, I don't like raw garlic, so I just use lemon zest and fresh parsley.
                    Also, I serve the bolognese over tagliatelle when possible-a good dried eggy pasta that I find at an Italian store.

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      I'll give the lemon zest a try next time I attempt my favorite meal. Are mom's Myers ok or do they have to be the regular lemons?

                    2. That's a good basic recipe. I would use a mixture of beef+pork and add the bay leaf as well as a few cloves.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: carbonaraboy

                        I've used a recipe that also mentioned to add ground ham, not a lot, but some none the less. Some recipes call for bacon or parma ham or serrano ham. I've yet to make one that can't be improved on at least in my mind, they can always be better.

                      2. Here is the iconic Karl S recipe, which has served me very well over the years. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1424...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: GretchenS

                          Thanks for the elevation to iconic status for this recipe!

                          1. re: Karl S

                            Ah, you got that status with me so, so long ago.

                        2. if it was too "beefy," try subbing water/wine for the beef broth, and use a mixture of meats. ground pork and veal are traditional. i wonder if the chicken livers didn't give it too dark and rich of a flavor, too.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                            probably agree with using less, like starting out with one chicken liver ground of course and see where it takes you.

                          2. Jfood loves the Hazan recipe. Usually makes a triple batch and freezes.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: jfood

                              I'm nodding my head as I read this because the Hazan recipe doesn't yield a huge amount of bolognese-at least not to American standards. That's not a bad thing. The bolognese is very rich, and you will want to serve it as a Primi or Secondi, not as a "Main" course.
                              But yes, make a triple batch because you will be dreaming about eating it again in the near future.

                              1. re: monavano

                                A triple batch yields about 8-10 8 oz servins. Jfood started with a single and looked around for the thief, then a double, and he had some for the fridge and now a triple. Last time 25% of it went as the meat sauce for Hazan's Cannelonni. And for that jfood uses 1.5X the Bechamel suggested in her recipe.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  Thanks, jfood. I think I'll be making a big batch this weekend. The cannelonni sounds perfect.

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    The cannelonni is over the top great. But it is a true labor of love. The meat sauce, the bechamel, the filling, the home made pasta, then cut to size, filled assembled bake. Two weekends ago jfood made a double batch so he could freeze. It was great to come home and reheat 4-5 of these guys and to round out the meal a couple of meatballs.

                                    Can't wait to hear the results.

                                  2. re: jfood

                                    Last time I made either quadruple or quintuple (can't remember) of the sauce. It's an all-day process for sure. I haven't tried the cannelonni yet but I know I probably won't do sauce and it on the same weekend. I'm not the overachiever that you are :)

                                    BTW, been meaning to mention that I think I like the B sauce better with pork as I fixed it the first time. But both are wonderful.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      jfood was going to try some different meats this winter, maybe lamb and venison. Pork sounds good too

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        I don't have access to venison but lamb sounds great! I recently did Will Owen's pork shoulder roast (that's what I call it though I guess he has several of them) with lamb shoulder and it was outstanding. How luxurious feeling to look at all those little packets/containers in the freezer. The dogs had a couple of tablespoons of leftover pasta and B sauce with their dinner last night.

                              2. A very simple recipe:

                                Finely chopped garlic, onion, celery and carrot
                                Olive Oil
                                Ground Veal, Beef, Pork and Pancetta
                                Heavy Cream
                                Tomato Paste
                                Salt and Pepper
                                Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

                                Fresh Grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of Olive Oil over sauce and pasta before serving.

                                Please note....I always cook on the stove top for this recipe...never tried it in a slow cooker

                                1. I make a lamb ragu (wife doesn't like beef). It's very rich and filling with lots of depth of flavor. Unlike with the beef where you cook the beeg at first until it's past the raw stage, in this recipe you brown the lamb, and the browner the better. Here is the link to this recipe and 2 others for classic bolognese and a pork bolognese. Enjoy.


                                  1. My favorite is one from Emeril that you can get on foodnetwork.com. It contains cinnamon and nutmeg, perhaps a bit untraditional, but I think it is delicious.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: bakerboyz

                                      I've used that one several times with great results; it's just a little different, really good.

                                    2. Pasta Classica by Julia della Croce has a wonderful recipe


                                      Instead of all beef she uses a combo of beef, pork and veal.

                                      1. A few years ago I found a recipe for a white Bolognese sauce in the New York Times (I'm one of those weirdos who's not super-crazy about red sauce on my pasta). I tweaked it a little and it's become a favorite despite it being somewhat labor intensive.

                                        2 TB olive oil
                                        2 cups mirepoix (I go heavy on the carrots because I like them)
                                        1 pound turkey Italian sausage removed from casings (don't use pork, it'll get way too greasy)
                                        1 beef bouillion cube dissolved in 1.5 cups hot water
                                        2 cups dry white wine
                                        1 pack dried porcini or portobello mushrooms soaked in 1.5 cups hot water
                                        .5 cup heavy cream

                                        Saute the mirepoix in the olive oil until onions are translucent. Add sausage and saute until browned. Process the mixture in a food processor until it's finely chopped--you'll have to do it in batches. Return the mixture to the pan and add bouillon and water, simmer until liquid is almost gone. Add wine and again simmer until liquid is almost gone. Take mushrooms out of the water and squeeze to get the excess out, chop in food processor and add to mixture along with the soaking water, simmer until almost dry. Add cream and heat through, taste for seasoning. I don't add any additional seasonings because of the sausage but if you're looking to cut down on salt you can use a pound of ground chicken or turkey and add s&p to taste.

                                        1. I've made my "quick" 2-hour version with white wine and beer. I like both, but i actually prefer the beer bastarduzatiob... try this out!

                                          Beer Bolognese
                                          - 1 cup diced carrot and onion (small dice)
                                          - 1 lb ground chuck or 1.25 lb ground beef
                                          - 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
                                          - 1 standard-size jar of spaghetti sauce
                                          - 12 oz. milk (I use 2%)
                                          - 6 oz. beer (I use lager or pils)
                                          - 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
                                          - 3 TBSP olive oil
                                          - Sugar, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, S&P to taste
                                          - 1 TBSP Oregano

                                          1. In a very large pan, sauté the onion/carrot in olive oil, about 8-10 minutes, on medium heat. Set the cooked veggies aside.
                                          2. Cook the beef in that same pan and drain it.
                                          3. Re-add the veggies to the meat. Season this with a bit of S&P, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Add the milk and diced tomatoes, stir well, and reduce the heat to medium- low. Cover the pan and let it sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
                                          4. Add the beer (or white wine... but try the beer!). Stir, cover and let it sit for another 20 minutes.
                                          5. Add the spaghetti sauce. Re-season and test it -- if too tart, add a good pinch of sugar. Add the oregano and perhaps more garlic or Italian seasoning, to taste. Stir well and put the cover back on. Let it sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. A light simmer is okay, but do not let it boil.
                                          6. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and remaining (2 TBSP or so) of olive oil. Stir well. Cover and let sit another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
                                          7. Cook about 12 oz (dry weight) of pasta -- I use spag, penne or rotini
                                          8. Drain the pasta and incorporate it into the sauce.
                                          9. To put it over the top, cover the pasta/sauce mixture with a quarter-inch layer of mozzarella or Italian cheese mixture... stick it in the oven (uncovered) and broil it, until the cheese is bubbly and just starting to brown.

                                          Serve with more Parm and enjoy! Makes about six-seven pounds; costs about $6-$10, depending on location.

                                          ***Edit: 1 teaspoon of Oregano... not a TBSP. Unless you absolutely can't get enough oregano. hehe

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: prezbucky

                                            I'm curious about the jar of spaghetti sauce. With those other ingredients, wouldn't canned tomatoes give you the same end result?

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              I'll try using crushed tomatoes on my next attempt. To suit my taste, I'll likely end up adding more sugar and herbs/garlic.

                                              I really like the flavor of mine the way it is (using spag sauce as the tomato base), but who knows... I might not know what I'm missing.

                                              One thing is sure: if I can make a reasonable facsimile using crushed tomatoes, I'll gladly stick with that route, for two reasons:

                                              1) A can of crushed tomatoes is cheaper than a jar of spaghetti sauce, and the extra sugar/herbs/garlic I'd add likely wouldn't offset that price difference... and
                                              2) The crushed tomatoes are likely healthier than the spag sauce... no preservatives or other questionable stuff.

                                              Thanks for the tip!

                                              1. re: prezbucky

                                                Re 1 and 2, that's what I was thinking. But didn't want to be one of those CHs who goes "ooh, it's so much better to make it than buy a jar!" :) Definite yes to additional herbs.

                                          2. I'll bet it's the beef broth that made it "WAY too beefy tasting." I've never put broth in Bolognese.

                                            I use Marcella's basic recipe, but I use different amounts of things. I like more carrot than celery, for example. I use cream, not milk, if cream is what I have in the house. Yesterday, I didn't add as much tomato as usual, to see if the white wine flavor would be enhanced. And I never use broth, of any variety.

                                            I tried Barbara Lynch's recipe last year, which also includes chicken liver. Didn't like it. Never going to do it again. I wonder if that didn't add to the taste you didn't like.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Jay F

                                              I absolutely loved this Mario Batali version as did my New Years Eve dinner guests. I also believe the real key to a great bolognese is long and gentle cooking. http://rouxbe.com/recipes/1146-mario-...



                                              1. re: LiveRock

                                                Hi, Randy - Your blog looks interesting. I'll be checking it out.

                                            2. I make two kinds of beef stock, one dark and full of darkly roasted things and a fair amount of meat on the bones and one very light with lots of vegetables ... Use the lighter one for Bolognese. More or less track Marcella Hazen but add toasted fennel and use quarter inch minced beef and pancetta. Just a dollop of tomato.

                                              1. mine is cooking now - smells heavenly - first time to make it any "official" way - It is on the milk reducing step - and I am giving it 2 hours time to do this - it's a football day/evening - so slow cooking is no issue today. The only thing I haven't decided yet is that the recipe I am kind of following calls after the wine reduction to mix a little tomato paste with some beef broth - I am not sure that I will add in the broth - guess it depends if it needs some liquid after all the time spent reducing. I am getting soooo hungry! I am just disappointed that I couldn't find any tagliatelli today.

                                                33 Replies
                                                1. re: smilingal

                                                  I am so disappointed in the recipe - I have made delicious meatballs, fabulous versions of tomato sauce, fantastic lasagnas (If I do say so myself!) - without any recipes. I decided to try an "official" bolognese - not sure if I had ever had one - but in fact, it is almost routinely what I make prior to preparing my lasagnas. I used Marcela Hazan's recipe and another CH member's version. There was no flavor - no rich tomato base, - I just poured in some garlic powder (which I really don't like using to begin with!), some oregano, some basil, some crushed red pepper, lots more tomato paste - and some more salt - all in efforts to get some depth of flavor. I used chuck, chopped round, pork and veal. FEH! Waiting for the pasta to be done and we will try it - maybe some fresh parm melted on top will also add a zip! So much for the famous versions!

                                                  AND! - I was so surprised that no where had I read how important it would be to drain the meat - I would have done that originally after it browned had I realized how much fat would then accumulate during the cooking process. I keep skimming it off the top! And there wasn't so much chuck - but maybe the pork gave off some - I also think that the 3 TBS of oil with the 1 TBS of butter - which I actually doubled as I had doubled the recipe (with even a bit more meat) is probably way too much than needed.

                                                  1. re: smilingal

                                                    Wow! I don't know what you combined with what but Hazan's recipe uses 1T oil and 3 of butter. In addition, I'm guessing you gave away flavor by removing that fat. I quote from the recipe:

                                                    "no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce." If you saved that fat, I'd add it back in.

                                                    Bolognese isn't an over the top highly seasoned recipe. If that's what you thought it was going to be, then that may be part of the reason.

                                                    Just a few thoughts off the top of my head.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      thanks - we just enjoyed it - not much the Jets! - but that was with a lot of doctoring up - AND I even added some pasta water because it did get dry enough as directed but I thought we'd prefer it a little moister. Oh well - live and learn!

                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1424... - this was the other recipe that had been favored by CH'ers. this one uses 3 oil to 1 butter as opposed to Hazan's using 3 butter to 1 oil.

                                                      I even used the pancetta - but don't feel it added anything.

                                                      1. re: smilingal

                                                        I got the advice to cook it til it was Sloppy Joe consistency. We all know that don't we?!? Try her green lasagna with that sauce.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          I do have her Essentials book on reserve at the library - so I will browse it when I get it - but I am disheartened - sooo many people on here have raved about her bolognese recipe. And yes, I have also heard many raves about the green lasagna - but after tonight - it reinforces my feelings of my own abilities even tho I do love finding new and terrific recipes.

                                                          1. re: smilingal

                                                            I think I'm an above average home cook (and that's by CH standards) and when CHs that I respect rave about something, I follow their recs scrupulously. As I said, you may like a different "flavor profile." There's nothing wrong with that certainly. I'm just not a this and that kinda cook :)

                                                            1. re: smilingal

                                                              I use Hazan's recipe but cannot resist adding: finely chopped garlic when the onion, etc. is added, dried oregano, dried basil and chopped fresh basil leaves. It just seems perfect that way, to me. I follow her directions on the slow simmers and it takes a long time, so, I agree, it makes sense to make a much larger amount and freeze some. Did you use San Marzano (D.O.P.) canned tomatoes?

                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                no - I usually do - but I followed the other recipe for the tomato base - which was not adequate IMHO - which was tomato paste mixed with beef broth - which I didn't do - I know - now I sound like those people out there who are always changing the recipes! --- but I didn't add the beef broth because some CH'ers complained it was too beefy but also because at that time I felt it was too liquidy - it did eventually all cook down to almost dry however which is why I added some pasta water. But I had to add much more tomato paste than had been directed. I almost always will cook with canned tomatoes - San Marzano by choice - but canned whole tomatoes when it's not a particular brand. I generally love to make my own sauces - and always use a low and slow cooking method - but I guess I need more of a flavor profile as was pointed out to me. I usually use a lot of fresh garlic - so here - where there was none - was naked to me! LOL And with the doctored up version adding the basil, oregano, etc at the end - it was a delicious meal after all. AND the fresh parm also added.

                                                                1. re: smilingal

                                                                  Hazan's does not call for beef broth. Try making her recipe with the San Mazanos, no paste. I add "my" extras kind of early on.

                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                    walker - just curious - so you follow Hazan's - and add what as your extras? I am thinking, from everyone's help here, that bolognese just might not be what I thought it was - and it is actually too subtle for my tastes - which of course means we can all turn it into something else if we preferred - but then I wouldn't need the recipe!

                                                                    1. re: smilingal

                                                                      When you get the book from the library, she lists dozens under "pasta sauces." Likely there's something they might suit you better.

                                                                      1. re: smilingal

                                                                        I can't speak for Walker, but I will note that the only similarity of a ragu bolognese with the kind of long-simmering tomato-meat gravies/sauces common in Italian-American cooking is that it is long-simmering. It is even more meat-centric, but the emphasis is more on richness (from meat and dairy fats, as well as the collagen in the veal or other meat) and a delicate balance of other dimensions of flavor. The ragu bolognese is a counterpoint to the star of the dish, which is the pasta, not the sauce, so it cannot overwhelm the pasta (for most Americans, pasta is merely a sauce-delivery device).

                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                          Very good explanation, Karl S. Appreciation of the pasta is something that I think a lot of Americans are coming late to.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            And many will reject that idea (there have been flame wars in threads on that point). Fine. But it helps explain why this particular sauce is the way it is.

                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                              I've seen some of those threads!

                                                                              The first time I made her green lasagna was a lightbulb kinda moment for me. The Bolognese sauce, the spinach noodles, the bechamel and the Parm. Rich but not heavy. Is elegant an appropriate word? One of the best things I've ever cooked. Note to self: get one of those remaining packs of sauce out of freezer and do this.

                                                                          2. re: Karl S

                                                                            I had to come back to add --- the "bolognese" -am I still allowed to call it that with my additions - is really delicious today! It is not at all saucy/gravyish - the thick fat ridgy ziti noodles fork up really nice to it - and I guess it is the very long simmering, as well as the mixture of the veal, pork and pancetta that all blends with the meat to give such a nice feel in the mouth! AND I AM excited - I just got a call from the library that Essentials is being held with my name on it - so I will get lost in it tonight.
                                                                            AND again - I really need to try the green lasagna that I have been hearing so much about.

                                                                            1. re: smilingal

                                                                              Not that Wiki is the final answer but this sounds legit. And it's your food, you can call it whatever you want.


                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                Just don't sell it at a restaurant as a ragu bolognese. that would not be truth in advertising, and a customer would rightly send it back unless told of the ingredients.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    Except that it shares with a ragu bolognese (and scrambled eggs and simple fish dishes, et cet.) the issue that American cooks these days often distrust or avoid subtlety because boldness masks more sins (either of ingredients or technique).

                                                                                    OH, and subtle dishes often suffer on reheating (with the m-wave being a particularly gruesome fate in this regard), so the American preference to make a lot of something so as to have leftovers is frustrated.

                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                      Another good point. I frequently hear people scoff at x # of cloves of garlic as being too little when, in fact, it may be just the right amount. Not talking B sauce here. To my palate the B sauce is just right. And when I want to make something with tons of tomatoes, garlic, onion, herbs, etc. that's just right also - for what it is.

                                                                                      Just had great Hunan food with Alan Barnes but this is making me hungry.

                                                                          3. re: smilingal

                                                                            My mother, who was U.S. born 100% Italian made wonderful meatballs and sauce but never knew about San Marzano tomatoes; she died before I discovered Hazan's great Bolognese. I made it Hazan's way the first time, it was great, but, from then on I've done the Ital-Am type additions. I have no shame about this, think it makes it even better.

                                                                            The recipe is written for such a small amount and it takes so long that I just make 2 big dutch oven size pots and give away some ("they" beg me for it) and freeze some. So, I guess for the way her recipe is written, a tsp each of dried oregano and dried basil and 1 Tbl (at least) of chopped fresh basil leaves. I really love fresh basil and don't want to ever cook sauce without it. Oh yes, the garlic. Use really fresh garlic and saute with the veggies, about 1.5 tsp, maybe more (I'm fond of garlic, too).

                                                                            Follow her recipe exactly. I go to a really great butcher for the ground chuck and I use a Pinot Grigio (about $8-10 a bottle), usually "Campanile".

                                                                            Do you know how to make fresh pasta?

                                                                            1. re: walker

                                                                              no - regrettably - but perhaps not so regrettable that I don't have the gumption to try it - I will always fondly carry visions of my late father-in-law futzing with the pasta maker I bought for him- laying the strands over every available kitchen chair to dry!
                                                                              It seemed like such a major ordeal, that although I adore fresh pasta, I don't think I want to exert the effort for it. Similarly to the new icecream machine I was just gifted.

                                                                              So - would you still call your version of sauce a bolognese? That is what mine ended up being but it seems that I would be stealing the thunder of bolognese by not calling it a ragu - just drier - and better! lol

                                                                              1. re: smilingal

                                                                                I wouldn't call anything with garlic powder, dried basil, and dried oregano Bolognese.

                                                                                The first time I made Marcella's Bolognese (to accompany pasta I made myself, either fettucine or lasagna), I felt so freed from those New Jersey Italian ingredients I had never liked, and which everyone except the only Italian native I knew well growing up seemed to overload their sauce with.

                                                                                I have as much use for dried basil and dried oregano as I have for "Parmesan" that comes in a green can. Garlic powder is useful in dry rubs, but it has no place in making sauce for pasta, no matter what you call it.

                                                                                Those of you who add that stuff, you can call your stuff sauce, but it isn't Bolognese.

                                                                                Most of all, it's a meat sauce, not a tomato sauce. I think that's what a lot of people don't get.

                                                                2. re: smilingal

                                                                  Oh wow, just checked the "other" recipe. Karl S is one of my major CH gods. I just have to believe that perhaps you're looking for some type of spaghetti sauce that this just isn't.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    Yep. A ragu bolognese is *not* like the sauces and gravies most Americans associate with pasta sauce. It's free of garlic and oregano or other herbs and hot pepper, and has little tomato. It's subtle, not bold. That does mean people have to like it. It is different.

                                                                    And there are are other ragus, like those of Abruzzo, that use lamb and have a less subtle flavor profile.

                                                              2. re: smilingal

                                                                it sounds weird if you made a double recipe and was expecting it to take 2 hours for the milk reduction part. did i read that right? I have made 4x and it takes about 20 minutes for the milk reduction.

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  what is interesting is that ---- after you wrote this - I went back to the original recipe that I had - which I had found either on here or googled it - but just now I read it on a Seattle newspaper's site and it said 1 cup of wine and 1 cup of milk where the recipe I had followed said 1-1 1/2 cups of each - also depending on how long one wanted to let it simmer! But that is strange that I now see different proportions - i don't have the book - I do have it on reserve from the library and will look forward to seeing some of her other recipes when I get it.

                                                                  1. re: smilingal

                                                                    depending on which version of the book and whether it is Essentials or More Essentials there are slight variations. Remember it is a Bolognese and not a Ragu. The former is a meat topping with some sauce and the latter is a sauce with some meat.


                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                        jfood - is ctbites a site you contribute to?

                                                                  2. re: smilingal

                                                                    Well, here's a version of a "meat sauce for pasta" that I make sometimes. If you are looking for a sauce with "kick" and strong flavors this might be of interest. :-)

                                                                2. Heston Blumenthal's recipe is a life-changing experience. It takes an insane amount of time to make, but it's completely worth it.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. What ever recipe I have used has been greatly by chopping the whole cuts of meat at home.

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: wew

                                                                      I've never made Bolognese with anything other than ground meat which I do grind myself but I doubt that adds much for this dish.

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        C Oliver

                                                                        I did try it using crushed tomatoes instead of spaghetti sauce. Here are the differences I noticed:

                                                                        - At the meat/milk stage, I actually added a tablespoon of tomato paste. This turned the milky white color pink (which makes sense...).
                                                                        - As stated, my tomato base (aside from the paste...) was a 28 oz can of Red Gold crushed tomatoes.
                                                                        - The sauce was a bit more "red" than it is with spag sauce -- when I use spag sauce as my tomato base, it's a nice red-orange color: spag sauce + milk + beer or wine.
                                                                        - The sauce did need more sugar, and I added enough to cut that raw tomato acidity, but on my first try I didn't quite make it equal the flavor I get with the spag sauce... doesn't mean I can't keep working on it.

                                                                        Isn't this topic supposed to be about our own recipes? I have done some reading on Bolognese, and in Bologna, these are the requirements:

                                                                        - Beef
                                                                        - Some type of pork (I have used bacon before, and it works)
                                                                        - Milk
                                                                        - White wine (my beer is a bastardization of this, but it works for me)
                                                                        - Some tomato (I like tomato, so I use a full, robust tomato base)
                                                                        - Other assorted veg (namely carrots and onions and maybe complete mirpois with celery. I've tried it with celery -- to my mouth it doesn't do much; if I have celery I'll dice and add some, and if not, no biggie).

                                                                        I add oregano, basil and garlic (at least) because those are classic Italian seasonings that (to me) are assets in any tomato-based pasta sauce. Rosemary is nice too, and just smelling Thyme makes my taste buds hard (hehe). These are flavor enhancers. What is wrong with them? Did the fine folks of Bologna say, "No, we don't need no stinking Italian seasoning!"?

                                                                        The Bolognese essentials are mentioned above; if YOU like a bit more tomato or perhaps some seasoning, go for it. Eat what tastes good to you, not what someone says should taste good.

                                                                      2. re: wew

                                                                        Maybe those recipes with more of a tomato base and the use of Italian herbs/seasoning should be referred to as hybrids... maybe known as "Neapolitan Bolognese", which covers the heavy reliance on the tomato and seasonings of the sauces of Naples (and southern Italy in general) and the beef/milk/wine of the Bolognese.

                                                                        Neapolitan Bolognese -- that's what I'll call my sauce henceforth. hehe

                                                                        1. re: prezbucky

                                                                          Or just call it spaghetti sauce. The Bolognese people actually seem pretty rigid about it.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            Keep the word ragu, ditch the word bolognese - it's that simple. The bolognese has no place with that flavoring - it would be like calling a mission burrito a philadelphia mission cheese-steak or something like that.

                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                              totally agree. when you call something a word that designates a tradional dish, changing its basic components at some point moves it to a different name. bolognese contains a set of specifics.

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                When this topic arises I'm often surprised that people want to call a dish by a incorrect name rather than just calling it what it is. As Karl S wrote, calling it a ragu doesn't diminish its specialness but callling it Bolognese when it isn't is just confusing. If I ordered it in a restaurant and it came with all those other ingredients, I'm pretty sure I would eat it but I would definitely speak to the manager about it and asked that my comments be passed along to the chef. Nicely, of course.

                                                                              2. re: Karl S

                                                                                But ragu is a broader term. In Italy it is simply a sauce made with meat. A bolognese sauce is a type of ragu (despite the claim of an earlier poster that it isn't) and it's sometimes referred to as ragu bolognese. In Emiglia-Romana, it would be called simply "ragu" as the bolognese type is what would be expected to be served there. In Campania, the region around Naples, a ragu would be a ragu napoletano, a sauce made with more tomatoes and with large pieces of meat (not ground) that are cooked in the sauce to flavor it, then removed and eaten as a separate course. The napoletano has just as much tradition behind it as the bolognese.

                                                                                1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                                  Yes, so you are agreeing with me, it seems. That's been my point. You would not, however, refer to a ragu abruzzese or ragu napoletana as a "bolognese", which is the implied issue here. I've been encouraging folks to keep the ragu and just ditch the bolognese when it doesn't fit.

                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                    And certainly not Neapolitan Bologne :) But I think that poster was making a joke.

                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                      I wan't sure from your previous post which side of the discussion you were on, but now that you've clarified your position, yes, we're absolutely in agreement.

                                                                          2. This is my recipe (for Ragu, if you prefer - for me, anything with this much meat that has a onion, carrot, and celery soffritto and milk is Bolognese sauce to me). I love it. As monavano mentions, I learned not to brown the beef the hard way.

                                                                            1 tablespoon olive oil
                                                                            1 large yellow onion, diced
                                                                            3 stalks celery, diceed
                                                                            1 carrot, diced
                                                                            4 cloves garlic, minced
                                                                            1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
                                                                            1 pound lean ground beef
                                                                            1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
                                                                            1 cup dry white wine
                                                                            1 cup whole milk
                                                                            1 6-ounce can tomato paste
                                                                            1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
                                                                            1/4 teaspoon red pepper
                                                                            2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
                                                                            1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
                                                                            2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
                                                                            1/4 teaspoon black pepper
                                                                            1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

                                                                            It cooks like you'd expect - put the pancetta in after the vegetables and 5 minutes before the beef/sausage. I also use good grass-fed ground beef from the farmer's market and this does seem to make a big difference in the taste, IMHO.

                                                                            1. I love this one, from Anne Burrell, but will inform you ahead of time that a) this recipe has already been shredded here on CH for many perceived deviations from traditional Bolognese and b) that doesn't worry me. It tastes really, really good.


                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                And I will defend to my death your right to not love it, or not even try it. :)

                                                                                In defense of my version of this recipe, however, I will say this: the veggies end up being chopped very finely, not the smooth liquid I think of as a puree (I think she does use the word "puree" though, but how could you brown a puree?), the water is mostly used as a means of keeping the sauce going long enough for the flavor develop, and the dominating flavors at the end are the wine and the thyme with a bit of a tomato-y richness. If I were able to use beef instead of ground turkey, the meat flavor might come through, too.

                                                                                I actually held off on posting it until I got a sense of whether or not the OP was deeply invested in authenticity. Since that didn't seem to be the case, I threw it out there. Maybe it's what they're looking for.

                                                                                1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                  My post that you replied to got deleted for some reason. I thought I was alright but perhaps not. Thanks for the clarification re puree. When I make this recipe I make a 4X or 5X batch. I have very weak hands and chopping that much carrot was uncomfortable. A CH recommended the FP and that's what I use. But very, very gently. At the end I still have some largish chunks that I handcut. At the end of cooking I can still see carrot. I find the wine and the milk are all that's needed to keep it moist and add flavor. I DO follow her instruction of cooking at such a low level of heat that a bubble only occasionally breaks the surface (or something like that). I never have a problem with it drying out although she does warn about that.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    I'm actually not a huge carrot person, and am quite happy for the carrots to disappear into the finished product. And good glory, I would NEVER chop that many veggies by hand. My toddler would go insane with boredom and my carpal tunnels would jump right out of my wrists and go rent a beach house in Bali or something.

                                                                                    I was actually thinking the last time I made this that I might try Hazan's recipe next time around, just because people here rave about it so much. If I do, I'll dredge up this thread and report back on the comparison. I'd still have to use turkey though. Not sure how much of a difference that would make.

                                                                                    1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                      I'm assuming a health reason for turkey? I grind my own meats and I think the home-ground turkey makes a big difference. Partly because of the dark meat and also what I grind is coarser than what I get at the grocer.

                                                                                      Know what you mean. I have chronic tendonitis in my right thumb. That much chopping would encourage a trip to Bali :)

                                                                                2. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                  that recipe appears to be a "braised chopped meat sauce". Might be delicious but not a bolognese any more than it is a chop suey.

                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                    Amusingly enough, Mr. Glimmer is from Maine, and there's a country store/lunch counter standard up in those parts called American chop suey. Which is, in fact -- wait for it -- a ground meat-and-tomato-ish sauce over pasta. Cheese, sometimes, if you're lucky.

                                                                                    So, presumably, there's a subsection of Mainers out there who would eat my, uh, braised chopped meat sauce, and say, "Damn, DG, that's some good chop suey."


                                                                                    1. re: darklyglimmer


                                                                                      They must be from NJ and refuse to call it a Sloppy Joe or from Cinn and refuse to call it chili.

                                                                                3. Sunday Sauce:

                                                                                  I love love love the addition of the chicken livers [not sure that's a staple in bolognese] but what it adds is undertoned brilliance.
                                                                                  I completely agree with monavano about the not browing the meat. It only goes as far as no more pink then the rest happens.
                                                                                  There is a question of when to add the milk/cream part and I like it at the end but memory tells me MH says to do it first and simmer forever, paraphrased. Now I'll go upstairs and read what she really says cause it's peaked my interest. OK in my 2000 edition on page 203-205. She states to cook the meat in milk before adding the wine and tomatoes. So, when I've made her recipe from the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, I've not been disappointed.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                    Isn't Sunday Sauce a generic name for ragu whereas Bolognese is quite specific?

                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                      Oops. Just realized you were addressing the OP, not referring to a dish.

                                                                                    2. I use Lea and Perrins Best Ever Bolognese recipe. I'm not kidding. It's the only sauce I'll eat.