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A top down shot of a bowl of Pasta Bolognese next to a white cloth, a bowl of salad, parsley, and a bowl of Parmesan.
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5 from 2 votes

Pasta Bolognese

This thick, richly flavored Bolognese sauce is easy to make for a delicious Italian meal at home. A bowl full of hearty Pasta Bolognese is the ultimate comfort food!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
0 mins
Total Time3 hrs 25 mins
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 12
Calories: 558kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus additional, as needed
  • 1 pound 80% to 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 pound 80% lean ground  pork not Italian Sausage
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 cup peeled and diced carrot
  • 2 ribs celery diced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt divided
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup red wine (an Italian red or a full-bodied wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or a blend)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 56 ounces canned whole San Marzano tomatoes 2 (28 ounce) cans
  • 1 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • dry pasta of your choice (rigatoni, penne, spaghetti, and linguine are all great choices)
  • grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Instructions

  • Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven with a little olive oil and place over MEDIUM heat. Add the ground beef and pork.  Crush and stir with a large spoon to break up until fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked meat to a dish and set aside. Drain the grease from the Dutch oven.
  • Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the empty Dutch oven and return it to MEDIUM heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook , stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened but not browned. Add the parsley, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir well.
  • Add the cooked and drained meat to the Dutch oven with the vegetable mixture. Season the mixture with the thyme, oregano, nutmeg, the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and a generous amount of black pepper. Add the wine, increase the heat to MEDIUM-HIGH, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir it into the meat mixture. Add both cans of whole tomatoes, breaking the tomatoes up a little with the back of a spoon as you stir them into the meat mixture (they'll soften and be easier to break up later). Add the beef broth and milk and bring the mixture almost to a boil then turn down the heat to LOW. Cook, uncovered, for 1 to 3 hours. The sauce will be richer and thicker if it cooks longer. Check and stir occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes as they soften.
  • When ready to serve, boil the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta (reserve a little pasta water) and return it to the hot, empty pan. Add the desired amount of the Bolognese and toss to combine. If the sauce has thickened more than you'd like, add a splash or two of pasta water to loosen it up a bit. Sprinkle in some grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
  • Transfer to bowls and serve with additional Parmesan.

Notes

This recipe makes enough sauce to serve with up to 2 pounds of pasta, depending on the ratio you like. It can be halved, if desired, or use half and freeze half for an easy future meal.
Tips for the Best Bolognese
  • Tomatoes - Italian tomatoes all the way! I can't stress enough how much of a difference it makes to use San Marzano tomatoes when making pasta sauce. They are sweeter and less acidic than regular canned tomatoes.
  • Dairy - Whole milk is necessary to create the correct flavor balance. For an even richer result, try using heavy cream.
  • Simmer - Simmer your Bolognese for at least one hour or up to three hours with the lid off. Leaving the lid off will allow some of the moisture to cook off which results in the sauce cooking down into rich, meaty deliciousness.
  • Serving - In order to fully coat the pasta with the sauce, it's best to mix the sauce into a pot of warm cooked pasta and toss it well before serving. If the sauce has thickened more than you'd like, toss in a little pasta water to loosen it up a bit. Serve it with plenty of Parmesan cheese.
Storage Tips
  • Refrigerator - Transfer leftovers to a covered container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. When storing tomato-based sauces, it's best to use glass or ceramic containers as they will likely stain plastic containers.
  • Freezer - Transfer any unused Bolognese sauce to a freezer-safe zippered plastic storage bag, press out as much air as possible, seal the bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw safely in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Calories: 558kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 794mg | Potassium: 944mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2317IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 5mg