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B*tchin’ Bolognese

No, I couldn’t think of a better name for this recipe. There are already 50,000 “Best Ever” or “Classic” bolognese recipes on the internet and I was feeling creatively lacking. But now that I have your attention.

If you’re still reading after my worst named recipe ever I applaud you. Your loyalty will soon be rewarded. With the sauce! What’s Bolognese you say? Bolognese is a hearty meat ragu originally from the city of Bologna in Northern Italy. Now you know. I’ve been making this bolognese for the better part of a decade. Some of the details have been tweaked over the years but its spirit remains the same. Sautéed mirepoix, ground meat, a little wine, tomato paste, stock, and a few herbs/spices. That and time is all it takes to make a fantastic bolognese. I am not Italian, and if you are don’t come for me. I know this isn’t the most authentic recipe in the world but if you say a few “Our Father’s” over the pot and add just a drop of tears from the pope I think it tastes pretty close. And strangely like guilt. Maybe I should rename this “Blasphemy Bolognese”. Maybe not. I prefer to make this recipe in a 4 or 5 quart Dutch oven and let it simmer for a few hours on the stove. If you don’t have the time to stand vigil with a pot of sauce for 4+ hours that’s ok. You can make this recipe in an instant pot. After adding the liquid and herbs place the lid on and select the slow cook on low setting for 6 hours or until you say it’s ready. That’s the thing about bolognese and time. Technically it’s cooked after the meat isn’t raw anymore. You can simmer it on low for 8 hours, adding water occasionally if it evaporators too much and the texture will be so soft and flavorful. It’ll cling to your pasta like it’s giving it a warm hug. Or you can cook it for 2 hours until it looks like a typical canned ragu and it’s still really good. Much like soups and chili I think bolognese is actually best the day after it’s been made so get ready for leftovers. You can also freeze a quart of leftover sauce for another day. Have fun making this recipe your own. Best of luck. “Pasta be with you.”

Yield: approximately 2 quarts of sauce


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 oz pancetta or thick cut bacon, small dice
  • 2 oz liver pate or braunschweiger, (this is optional if liver freaks you out but it definitely elevates the sauce tremendously)
  • 1 Cup whole milk
  • Olive oil as needed
  • 1 medium sized onion, small dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled and small dice
  • 1 rib celery, ends removed and small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 Cup dry white wine, red wine works too if you don’t have white
  • 4 Cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper as needed
  • For serving: 1 pound fresh cooked pasta, 1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat a 4 quart Dutch oven over medium high heat.
  2. Add beef and brown until cooked through. Using a slotted spoon remove cooked beef from the pan and place in a large bowl. Leave drippings in pan.
  3. Cook the ground pork as you did the beef and add it to the bowl with the beef.
  4. Add pancetta to the pot and cook until browned. Add pate or diced braunschweiger and sauté lightly. Remove the pancetta and pate and place in the bowl with the other meats. Pour the milk over the meats and set aside. This warms the milk slightly and begins tenderizing the meats.
  5. If the pot has a nice layer of fat, begin sautéing the onions. If needed add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté onions until translucent and add carrots and celery to the pot.
  6. Brown the mirepoix (onions/carrots/celery) for 5-10 minutes or until they become tender and browned but not burnt. Add the garlic cloves. I keep the cloves whole as a “doneness” test. Once the sauce is cooked long enough that the garlic cloves soften and disintegrate into the sauce is how I know it’s done enough for me.
  7. Add tomato paste and sauté for another minute.
  8. Deglaze the pan with the wine and scrap the bottom of the pan to pull up any caramelized bits of food that have stuck. This is flavor goodness.
  9. Simmer over medium heat until the wine is nearly evaporated.
  10. Add meats and milk mixture to the pot, season with a little salt and pepper, and pour in the stock.
  11. Add in the bay leaf and nutmeg.
  12. Bring sauce to a simmer.
  13. Lower heat and place a lid on the pot. Cook covered for 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure the bottom of the pot isn’t burning.
  14. Remove lid from pot and return the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for an additional two hours or until the sauce is thick and the meat is tender on the palate.
  15. If needed add water to the sauce and continue cooking if the liquid evaporated too quickly but doesn’t taste ready. I’ve cooked this sauce for as little as 2 hours and as much as 8. My sweet spot is usually around 4 but depending on the size of the pot, temperature, and rate of evaporation it varies. The longer you cook it the more flavorful and tender it will become.
  16. Taste sauce and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
  17. Ladle finished sauce over pasta and top with grated Parmesan.
  18. Enjoy!

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