I have been cooking Bolognese sauce since I was 13, in fact, it was one of the first recipes we learned in catering school. Over the years I have tweaked the recipe, adding different herbs, cooking it longer, and adding different tomatoes. When we visited Bologna, we ate tagliatelle alla Bolognese in a small trattoria and it hit me, I had been cooking it wrong all of this time!
Authentic bolognese sauce is not a tomato-based sauce! The real one is just blushing with pinkness from the tomato paste and a bit of passata. The star of the show is in fact the meat and eventually the egg pasta. On my return, I went back to the stove and worked out a recipe that resembled that plate of food that left me speechless in Bologna.
How to Make a Traditional Bolognese Sauce
- Place a large cast iron pot or a large saucepan on the heat and pour the oil inside. Once the pot is hot, place the minced beef and pork inside steering occasionally, and slightly salt the meat. Depending on the quality and fat content of the meat, it will release some liquid in the pot, keep cooking, and steer the meat until it has fully evaporated and the meat starts to take color through caramelization.
- Meanwhile finely chop or pulse in a food processor the carrots, onions, celery, thyme, and rosemary.
- Once the meat is caramelized add the soffritto (chopped veg and herbs) and steer well, lower the heat, and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and about 100 ml of water, then the passata. Reduce the heat to a minimum, cover the pot, and cook steering every 15 minutes for at least 90 minutes, tasting and adjusting seasoning after 60 min. once cooked, add the roughly chopped basil, switch off the heat, and let the sauce rest covered for 30 min before serving.
How Long will it take to make an Authentic Bolognese sauce?
You must be thinking there is no way I am cooking Bolognese sauce and having dinner on the same day, it must take 4/5 hours! Well, I am glad to share with you a much quicker recipe. It will only take 2 hours to cook the authentic bolognese sauce using much better equipment nowadays than what my grandmother had.
- Start by browning the meat and sealing those flavors with a little olive oil.
- At this time cut up all the vegetables to make a soffritto. Soffritto in Italian means fried slowly. Moreover, it is the base of most of the meat dishes in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. In particular, it gives a deep flavor or what you would call a stock/base to sauces and casseroles.
- Add soffritto mix to the meat and cook it on slow heat for a few minutes.
- Last but not least add passata and water, turn down the heat, and let the cast iron pan do its magic.
I love to use cast iron pan to make bolognese sauce because of its even heat distribution. This material makes the sauce cook more evenly on low heat in a short space of time.
Where does Authentic Bolognese sauce originate from?
I have seen many different variations of this sauce. However, I wanted to show you how to make an authentic bolognese sauce which comes from Bologna in the center of Italy.
We call bolognese sauce also ragu alla bolognese which is commonly combined with tagliatelle pasta.
Would you like to find out more about Bologna and its amazing cuisine? Read Bologna-The city of Food article to find out where to eat and more traditional food that comes from Emilia Romania region.
What to do with leftover bolognese sauce?
- Refrigerate – keep in the fridge using an airtight container (I recommend Pyrex or frigoverre glass container) for up to 3 days. Check out our guide to kitchen necessities your kitchen cannot do without.
- Make other dishes like– lasagne, cannelloni, or suppli.
- Freeze –once the sauce is at room temperature you can put it in the freezer. I would suggest dividing a big batch of bolognese sauce into portion sizes (100 g per person) and freezing it into one or two portions. Besides it will make it so much easier and more convenient to defrost avoiding any wastage.
- Defrost – overnight in the fridge, allowing the sauce to return to its normal form.
- Re-heat – drizzle a little bit of oil in the frying pan, add the thawed bolognese sauce, and let it slowly heat up. It should take around 10 minutes to reach a temperature above 75 C or 165 F (which is the food safety recommended re-heating temperature).
What is the best pasta shape to use for Authentic Bolognese Sauce?
Authentic Bolognese sauce or ragu is served with tagliatelle pasta. Having a flat slightly thick surface allows the sauce to stick better, using something thin like spaghetti will make the sauce fall to the bottom of the plate.
If you have little kids at home, try to cook some short pasta which will make it easier to eat.
Nevertheless, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese is served with fresh egg tagliatelle pasta, or dry egg tagliatelle can be used for convenience.
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
Authentic Bolognese Sauce
- 125 g Beef mince meat
- 125 g Pork mince meat
- 100 g Carrots
- 100 g Celery
- 100 g Onion
- 100 g Passata
- 15 g Tomato Paste
- 10 ml Olive oil
- 5 g Basil
- 3 g Thyme
- 3 g Rosemary
Tagliatelle alle Bolognese
- 400 g Bolognese sauce
- 400 g Dry Egg Tagliatelle
- 5 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 g Parmesan cheese
- 3 g Parsley
How to Make Authentic Bolognese Sauce
- Place a large cast iron pot or a large saucepan on the heat and pour the oil inside. Once the pot is hot, place the mince beef and pork inside steering occasionally, slightly salt the meat. Depending on the quality and fat content of the meet, it will release some liquid in the pot, keep cooking and steering the meet until it has fully evaporated and the meet start to take colour through caramelization.
- Meanwhile finely chop or pulse in a food processor the carrots, onions, celery, thyme and rosemary to make soffritto.
- Once the meat is caramelized add the soffritto (chopped veg and herbs) and steer well, lower the heat and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and about 100 ml of water,
then the passata.
- Reduce the heat to a minimum, cover the pot and
cook steering every 15 minutes for at least 90 minutes.
- Tasting and adjusting seasoning after 60 min. once cooked, add the roughly chopped basil. Switch off the heat and let the bolognese sauce rest covered for 30 min before serving.
How to Make Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
- Place a large pan of salted water on the heat and once boiling drop the tagliatelle.
- Meanwhile heat up the sauce.
- Cook the pasta for 1 minute less then the packaging quoted cooking time, then with the use of the tongs decant the tagliatelle from the water to the sauce adding a bit of the cooking water as well.
- Toss the tagliatelle with the sauce for the remaining cooking minute, then add the chopped parsley.
- Plate the tagliatelle alle bolognese, drizzle the extra virgin olive oil and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Hints and TipsFor cooking bolognese sauce I recommend a cast iron pot, as it has a better heat radiation ability, which makes cooking the sauce better on a lower heat. Adding a bay leaf to bologense sauce will enhance the meat flavour. I have used dry egg tagliatelle, if using fresh account 150 g per person. If you reheat the bolognese sauce, ensure it is pipping hot before adding the pasta. To ensure you reheat the sauce enough simply use a probe to test. Ensure the re-heated sauce has reached 75C or more.
You can find out more about the health benefits of Mediterranean diet!
Pasta dishes are the heart of every Italian table! Not only but also you might like spaghetti alla crudiola – an easy and quick-to-prepare pasta dish! Don’t forget about the vegetables: amazing green beans alla marinara or a side of sauteed spinach will be a great addition to any meal.
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