Quintessential Bolognese

Quintessential Bolognese 528 528 Hannah Howard

There are plenty of delicious Italian dishes, but the perfect blend of comfort, simplicity and finesse belongs to the Bolognese. The region of Emilia Romagna is known for so many of the classic foods of Italy–including Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic vinegar–that it’s possible to forget that the region is also home to the humble Bolognese. This meat sauce, or ragu, has been handed down and spread all over the world, and is mostly known to Italian-Americans as a tomato and ground meat-based sauce. But the original recipe calls for less tomato, and more flavor from the slow stewing of meat, vegetables, stock and wine.

Tossing your pasta in a pan with the sauce allows you to coat everything beautifully, ready to serve with a bottle of Sangiovese at its side. Speaking of Sangiovese — Why not pair a classic food of Italy with ones of its most renowned grapes? The bright flavors of Basile Cartacanta Sangiovese cut through the meaty, creamy sauce to refresh the palate, while elevating some of the deeper hints of sweetness and acidity in the sauce from the onions, wine and tomato paste.

Serves 4 – 6


2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz. bacon, diced

2 small onions (or 1 large), finely diced

2 sticks celery, finely diced

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

6 oz. ground beef

6 oz. ground veal

1/2 cup dry red wine

3 cups beef stock, divided

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup whole milk

1 lb. pasta (we love tagliatelle or fettuccine)

Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated for serving


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole set over medium heat, and then add the bacon. Once the bacon fat has started to render, add the onion, and cook gently until softened, then add the celery and garlic and cook for two more minutes.
  2. Turn heat up to medium-high. Add beef and veal and cook, stirring and breaking up lumps until browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add wine, stirring and scraping up browned bits until it comes to a boil. Add 2 1/2 cups stock and tomato paste. Stir and reduce heat. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for an hour. Season to taste.
  4. In a small saucepan, warm milk. Gradually add it to Bolognese. Simmer over low heat until milk is absorbed, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more stock if needed to thin sauce.
  5. Cook pasta. Transfer Bolognese to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pasta and toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano and serve.

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