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Marcella Hazan's Classic Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese is not so much a tomato sauce as it is a meat sauce. The classic recipe must contain onions, celery, carrots, ground beef, tomatoes, milk and white wine.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword bolognese recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 3
Calories 718kcal


  • Dutch Oven or very heavy bottomed pot (no lid needed)
  • Large wooden spoon
  • Sharp knife
  • Microplane for grating nutmeg and cheese


  • 1 tablespoons Vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Butter plus one tablespoon for tossing with the pasta
  • ½ cup onion chopped
  • cup chopped celery
  • cup carrot diced
  • .75 pounds ground beef chuck can be 1 part pork, if desired
  • Kosher salt large pinch of salt
  • Black pepper 2 grindings of pepper from mill
  • 1 cup Whole milk
  • pinch Nutmeg tiny grating from whole nutmeg
  • 1 cup Dry white wine
  • 1.5 cups Canned imported Italian plum tomatoes cut up, with their juice
  • ½ pound Pasta
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese freshly grated at the table


  • Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium.
  • Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot.
  • Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.
  • Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper.
  • Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
  • Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely.
  • Add a tiny grating, about ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg, and stir.
  • Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well.
  • When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface.
  • Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat.
  • To keep it from sticking, add ½ cup of water whenever necessary.
  • At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
  • Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.


Calories: 718kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 447mg | Potassium: 880mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 5401IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 228mg | Iron: 5mg