Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce

Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce recipe is authentic as can be and is, according to many we’ve heard of the absolute best Bolognese sauce recipe ever. It’s also easy and impressive.

A blue bowl filled with pappardelle noodles and Marcella Hazan's bolognese sauce on a wooden board with a block of Parmesan and a grater beside the bowl.

Marcella Hazan, in her inimitable fashion, offers the home cook an authentic Bolognese sauce recipe, the traditional kind an Italian grandmother would approve of, thank you very much. This is my version of her recipe, with very subtle tweaks. It takes a while to make, although most of the time the Bolognese is spent simmering, unattended, on the back burner except for occasionally making lazy eights with a wooden spoon.–David Leite

What's the difference between Bolognese and spaghetti sauce?

In essence, Bolognese sauce is spaghetti sauce. Though it’s no ordinary meat sauce. It’s a long, slowly simmered sauce that’s richer and creamier than your everyday marinara due to the inclusion of milk. It also is less predominated by tomatoes than your typical marinara. It’s named for its city of origin, Bologna.

☞ READ THE ARTICLE: IN DEFENSE OF GRANDMOTHER COOKING

Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (46)
  • 20 M
  • 6 H
  • Serves 8 | Makes 4 cups sauce
4.9/5 - 46 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

In a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the oil and 6 tablespoons butter until the butter melts and stops foaming. Toss in the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Toss in the celery and carrot and cook, stirring to coat them with the oil and butter, for 2 minutes.

Add the chuck and pork, a very healthy pinch of salt, and a goodly amount of pepper. Crumble the meat with a wooden spoon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meats have lost their raw red color.

Reduce the heat to low. Pour in the milk and simmer gently, stirring frequently, until the liquid has completely evaporated, about 1 hour.

Stir in the nutmeg. Pour in the wine and gently simmer, stirring frequently, until it’s evaporated, about 1 1/4 hours more.

Add the tomato purée or crushed tomatoes and stir well. When the tomato puree begins to bubble, turn down the heat so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers with just an intermittent bubble breaking the surface.

Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is burbling away, there’s a chance that it’ll start drying out. To keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot and scorching, add 1/2 cup water if necessary, just know that it’s crucial that by the time the sauce has finished simmering, the water should be completely evaporated, and the fat should separate from the sauce.

Take a spoonful—or two—of sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side. Originally published January 31, 2012.

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    What You Need To Know About Making The Most Classic Italian Bolognese

    • Following are some techniques and tricks to ensure the most classic Italian Bolognese:

      The more marbled the meat, the sweeter the ragu. (The most desirable cut of meat is the neck portion of the chuck. You may have to special order it from your butcher.)

      It’s important to salt the meat as soon as it hits the pan. This draws out the juices and imparts flavor to the Bolognese.

      Use a heavy pot that will retain heat. I use my Le Creuset 5-quart Dutch oven. Avoid using cast-iron, as the acid can interact with the metal and turn the sauce a blech color.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This is the perfect recipe to make if you're stuck in the house doing chores and can’t leave. A little prep work and a little stir every now and then gives you a wonderful smell throughout your house and a nice, thick sauce for your pasta. I love that there isn’t a strong tomato taste to this sauce, unlike most commercial jar sauces. This is pure, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food.

    All you need is some warm bread and you have a meal. The next time I make it I'll probably omit the oil, as I felt there was a little too much oil floating on top when it was ready to serve.

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    Comments

    1. I’m curious about the white wine. Other recipes for bolognese I’ve look at typically have red wine. I doubt they’re interchangeable in a recipe like this. Any thoughts?

      1. Fran, you could probably get away with using a lighter-bodied red, but I’d avoid anything strong or heavy with tannins. Ideally, white wine would be best.

      1. Susan, it’s 3 cups of canned tomatoes. You should be able to get about that amount from two 15-ounce cans.

    2. This was the best sauce I have ever eaten. I had quit eating “red” sauces due to reflux. NONE with this sauce. I will double and freeze the next time.

      1. Love love love hearing this, Laura! Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know.

    3. I’m making this right now. I’m impatient and hasty, and I forgot to let the liquids simmer with the ground meat before adding tomatoes. I did change things up a bit because of what I had on hand. I only used 1 lb of hot Italian sausage, added tomato paste. added a couple tablespoons of sherry cooking wine and beef broth (instead of white wine), 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream, the sauce is simmering and it tastes divine, but im wondering if this will change how it’s meant to be. My sauce also looks a little light-colored, I’m hoping it will darken as it simmers! Wish me luck. Either way I cant wait to eat this!

      1. Charlotte, I’m guessing you’ve finished making the sauce at this point. Do let us know how it turned out. I think it should have been fine, although you likely would need the additional cook time at some point in the process in order to reduce the liquid and get the sauce to the right consistency.

    4. Hi, I want to make this. Is it okay not to use the butter and replaced it with more olive oil? What do you think? How much olive oil?

      Thank you for sharing Marcella’s recipe.

      1. Aileen, we haven’t tried this, so we can’t say for certain. One of the readers on the site did mention that they swapped oil for the butter (1 for 1) and it turned out pretty good. The flavor will be a little different. If you try it, do let us know how it turns out.

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