Ragù alla Bolognese is the most iconic meat-based sauce in Italy. In the US, this term is often used as a catch all term for any meaty pasta sauce. This is a traditional Italian Bolognese recipe: well-spiced and creamy, light on the tomatoes.
This deeply-flavored sauce is made with dry white wine. This addition gives the sauce a layer of complexity, and complements the tomatoes perfectly. The finished dish is packed with hearty meat and vegetables that make it perfect to enjoy alongside a bottle of red. Take the guesswork out of shopping with our Italian Favorites wine bundle. Use the Vermentino to cook, and pop open another bottle when it’s time for dinner.
This sauce is a time investment, so consider doubling the recipe and freezing half of it for another time. You’ll thank yourself when you’re eating a warm bowl of rigatoni on a busy weeknight.
Classic Bolognese Recipe
Makes 5 cups
Cook time: 4 hours
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large white onion, small diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and small diced
- 2 stalks celery, small diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1⁄8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 500ml bottle of dry white wine (such as Vermentino)
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand, liquid reserved
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
1. In a Dutch oven or medium sauce pan, melt the butter on medium. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 16 to 18 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.
2. Add the pork and beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the meat is very lightly browned and cooked through.
3. Add the milk and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until the milk has evaporated. Add the nutmeg, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until thoroughly combined.
4. Add the wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 9 to 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced in volume by three-quarters.
5. Add the tomatoes, including their liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Add the water and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 3 hours, or until the meat is completely tender. Check the sauce about every 30 minutes and stir the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking. If the sauce needs additional water, particularly in the last hour, add 1⁄4 cup at a time.
6. Uncover the pot and increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in the marjoram and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, until the remaining liquid is almost completely cooked off. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool before using or storing. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.