Bolognese Sauce

This savory homemade bolognese sauce is rich and creamy and made with bacon, pork, and beef. Even more delicious the next day, and freezes well for later.

overhead view of a pot of bolognese sauce topped with parsley and basil, sitting on a cutting board with sliced toasted garlic bread.

Are you ready to make the best bolognese sauce recipe you’ve ever had in your life? Then let’s do this! In our home we like to talk about the Mmmm factor - how tasty a dish really is judged on the amount of “Mmmms” emitted while eating. Well this recipe has a high Mmmm factor. And it only gets better the next day (and even better the day after). Bolognese sauce is one of those dishes with multiple layers of flavors, all cooked together over time. The result is a complex taste with a delicious richness and depth. This recipe is a hearty mix of three types of meat and veggies. 

Mike is always teaching me about cooking and food in general. One thing he has taught me is how to layer flavors to create depth in a dish. It's what gives a dish a rich and complex flavor. Usually this comes with layering in different ingredients over time, and cooking the flavors together in a low and slow way. Think of slow roasted meats like prime rib, or the deep and flavor rich taste of gumbo. It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life with cooking Cajun dishes, but I never really realized it. The Cajun and creole dishes I grew up eating, and later cooking, are all about layering multiple flavors and cooking everything over several hours to meld everything together. I don’t think I truly understood how this works until creating this recipe, and wow does it make a difference.

mirepoix of chopped carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in glass containers on a cutting board

How to make this recipe

For this Bolognese sauce recipe, I start off by cooking bacon in a heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven. This starts the flavor party off right because I mean, bacon, duh. Next I cook the veggies in the bacon fat to add an extra layer of flavor to them. Caramelizing the mirepoix – the French term for onions, carrots, and celery – also adds more flavor than just throwing them in the sauce. Browning the meat is a huge step to layer in flavor in any dish. Think of a perfectly cooked steak with a charry crust or the burnt ends from a brisket. In the words of Guy Fieri, Flavor Town! 

Another flavor booster in this recipe is the addition of wine. Cooking with alcohol is another great way to add a depth of flavor to your food for two reasons. 1) Alcohol molecules are volatile, which means they evaporate quickly. That evaporation brings the smells (and flavors) to your nose before you taste it with your mouth. A dish that smells delicious makes us want to eat it more. And 2) alcohol helps penetrate the meat, carrying the other flavors of your dish with it. In addition to that, wine itself also has a lovely complex flavor. Recently I had a wine that was described as “notes of blackberries, cherries, dark chocolate and leather” – which sounds like a lot going on but it was very good! So using different wines can introduce subtle flavor differences into your dish.

Deglazing your pan – the act of using a liquid to loosen up the dark bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan – with alcohol is a great way to make sure all those flavors get incorporated into your dish and don’t get left on the pan. No flavor left behind! Something else to note is that you don’t only want complex flavors, but also balanced flavors. This means the fat from the milk and bacon, mix with the acid from the tomatoes, and saltiness from the pork creating not only a depth of flavor but a balanced one too. 

close up shot of pot of bolognese sauce with milk being added

After the tomatoes, wine, and herbs are added to the pot, I simmer the whole thing together on low for at least 2 hours. More time won't hurt here as long as you keep it covered and are stirring occasionally. The finishing touch of stirring in milk at the end adds to the creamy texture of this Bolognese sauce. Sprinkle with fresh basil and parsley, and serve with grated parmesan cheese or a dollop of ricotta.  We like to reserve some of the pasta water and mix in a tablespoon to the pasta and bolognese sauce mixture over heat for a few minutes before serving. The pasta water helps the sauce stick to the noodles. 

Blue bowl of bolognese sauce tossed with linguini pasta, topped with basil, next to crusty garlic bread

Did you make this bolognese sauce recipe? Let us know how your bolognese sauce came out! Don’t forget to take pictures and tag us on Instagram using #feedingourfaces!

overhead view of a pot of bolognese sauce topped with parsley and basil, sitting on a cutting board with sliced toasted garlic bread.

Bolognese Sauce

This savory homemade bolognese sauce is rich and creamy and made with bacon, pork, and beef. Even more delicious the next day, and freezes well for later.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bolognese, family dinner, italian, sauce, spaghetti sauce, sunday dinner
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours
Servings: 10
Calories: 376kcal

Ingredients

  • 6 oz bacon chopped
  • 1 cup onions diced
  • cup carrots diced
  • cup celery diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • ¾ lb ground chuck
  • ¾ lb ground pork
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon beef base I use Better than Bouillon
  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • fresh basil or parsley
  • pasta (linguini or spaghetti work well with this sauce)
  • Ricotta or parmesan for topping optional

Instructions

  • SAUTE: In a large pot/Dutch oven cook chopped bacon over medium-low heat until crispy. Drain fat, but reserve 1-2 tablespoons. In the pot with bacon and fat, add in onions, carrot and celery and sauté in the bacon fat over medium-high heat until onions are caramelized and translucent, stirring as you cook. Add in garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring.
  • BROWN: Add in ground beef and pork and season with salt and pepper. Break up ground meat as you stir and cook until all browned.
  • DEGLAZE: Add in wine and stir to combine. Deglaze pot and cook until alcohol burned off, 5-10 minutes.
  • SIMMER: Add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon base, Worcestershire sauce, and oregano. Stir to combine. Add bay leaves and fresh thyme. Add ¾ cup water, stir and bring to a gentle simmer on low heat. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • FINISH: Remove bay leaves and thyme sprig. Add in milk and stir to combine. Simmer for 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Boil pasta and drain; reserving some of the pasta water.
  • SERVE: To serve, add cooked pasta, Bolognese sauce and a few tablespoons of pasta water to a pot or skillet, and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until the pasta and Bolognese are well combined. Top with fresh parsley and basil.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 376kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 248mg | Potassium: 365mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1553IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 1mg
 

4 Comments

  1. Made this today and it was Very Good!

     
  2. Delicious!

     
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