I need y’all to listen to me for a minute. Like, I need you to hear me and believe it in your bones when I tell you this. This sauce is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever cooked in my whole life. Ever.
And you can put that on page one. And take it to church.
I knew what Bolognese sauce was. Well, I thought I knew what it was. I thought it was just like regular ol’ spaghetti sauce but with more meat.
I was so wrong.
It is so much more than that.
This sauce is more about the meat and layering of flavors and less about the tomatoes. The tomatoes are really insignificant in this sauce. You cook this for hours uncovered so that the sauce reduces and the flavors really intensify.
I did a ton of research before I hashed out my recipe. I had no idea Bolognese had milk in it. Or white wine. I found recipes that used both red and white wines but the more reading I did, the more sure I became that white wine is not only more authentic but actually tastes better because the brightness of it works beautifully with the rich meat.
I did some comparison research online but most of the information I based my recipe on came from one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia. I’ve had this book for about 15 years and I go to it time and time again. It’s chocked full of facts about authentic Italian cuisine and traditional recipes. I can’t tell you how many times I've curled up on the couch with this book and a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups grated carrot*
1 1/2 cups finely diced celery
1 1/2 cups finely diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
1 1/4 cups dry white wine*
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Season ground beef and ground pork with salt and pepper to taste then brown in a Dutch oven or stock pot** until cooked through. Drain fat from meat then set meat aside.
To the same (now empty) pot add butter, carrots, celery and onion and sauté over medium heat until onions are semi-translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste and minced garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Add cooked ground meat to pot with veggies and mix well. Stir in milk and nutmeg. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for one hour or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir occasionally and adjust heat such that you maintain a very gentle simmer during this time.
Add white wine, tomatoes (with juice), Italian Seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt and garlic powder and stir well. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Cover the sauce and remove from heat before cooking your pasta to let the sauce rest a bit before serving.
Bolognese is traditionally served with pasta strands (tagliatelle, spaghetti, etc.) or rigid tube pasta (rigatoni, penne, etc.) but any pasta will work! I found that I wanted more sauce than I usually have when eating traditional spaghetti sauce (because it’s SO flipping good, y’all).
Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
This recipe makes approximately 8 servings. Enjoy!
*I used a box grater to shred my carrots instead of trying to finely dice them because it’s so much easier but feel free to finely dice yours.
**You’re going to need something that’s at least 12” in diameter because of the reducing we do in this recipe. If you don’t have anything that wide, prepare all the steps up to adding the white wine and tomatoes in a large skillet then transfer everything to a large pot. Then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. ALSO… you can’t use a cast iron pot or skillet (enamel covered cast iron is fine) with recipes that include wine (or vinegar or lots of tomato sauce or anything else highly acidic) as the acid will react unfavorably with the cast iron.
[UPDATE] Within 24 hours of publishing this recipe I've received several comments and emails asking what to substitute for the wine so I thought I better add this note. It is my opinion that there isn't a substitute for the wine in this recipe. I think it's just too important as it brightens the flavor and balances the richness from the butter, milk and meat. You can certainly leave it out if you like but I do not think the sauce will taste as good. Chicken broth would not be a good substitute as the only thing it has in common with wine is that it's wet.