Total Time: 2 hours and a half

The bolognese sauce recipe, also called ragù alla bolognese, is a meat sauce. It’s used in lasagne alla Bolognese.  Not to be confused with the great and totally different  ragù napoletano,  used in the lasagne napoletane.

There are lots of variations of this popular sauce. So much that eventually, probably tired of the degeneration and misrepresentations, the Accademia Italiana della cucina decided to clarify.

The classic old Bolognese Sauce Recipe was registered in 1982 with the Bologna chamber of commerce. It states that must contain: onion, celery, carrot, bacon, ground beef, tomatoes, milk and wine.

Tagliatelle, the fresh egg pasta, is traditionally married to the bolognese sauce recipe.



  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 rib of celery finely chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 3 ounces bacon chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup tomato pulp in  purée‎
  • 3/4 cup milk with a pinch nutmeg
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • salt and pepper

Makes about 3 cups



In a capable saucepan warm up butter and oil. On low heat cook vegetables until soft, 10-15 minutes. Add bacon to brown, then raise heat and add ground meat. Break it up,  stir and brown well.

Add wine and let evaporate at lively heat, about 5 minutes. When mixture has dried up, drop tomato, add broth, salt and pepper

Cover the pot and cook at very low heat about 2 hours stirring occasionally. If mixture is drying, add more broth.

To finish, turn heat off, add milk, stir letting milk being absorbed, incorporated in the sauce. Have a final check for salt and pepper.

Sauce should not be runny, but of a dense consistency.



  • Onion celery and carrot – should be in about the same proportions.
  • Bacon – is in the original recipe. Prosciutto and even sausage could be used.
  • Ground beef – can be mixed with ground pork meat for more flavor. Some stores even sell a prepackaged mix of ground beef veal and pork.
  • Wine – you could use white.
  • Milk – supposedly helps in keeping meat tender and moist. You could use light cream. Skip it if it doesn’t agree with you.
  • Tomato – it’s not a decisive ingredient, like it would be in Naples. Use a sweeter, less acidic tomato. With San Marzano, you can never go wrong. Some use a small quantity of tomato paste only, or a combination.
  • Beef broth – or water. As the cooking time is long, some liquid has to be added. Beef broth is a natural.
  • Salt and pepper – no other spices required. Mind that broth is salty an so is bacon.
  • Cooking time – About 2 hours. Some even suggest up to 4 hours. Certainly 1 hour won’t do.

More sauces for pasta

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