Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bolognese Sauce

When my dad was in town over the holidays, we cooked a bolognese sauce together from a recipe that's been passed between my aunt, uncle, mom, and dad, who were/are ALL fantastic cooks. I love the smell of a pot of sauce cooking throughout the day. And then when it's finished, you get to enjoy a delicious plate of pasta and have TONS of leftovers to freeze for later!

The only problem with having an actual "recipe" for a homemade sauce, it that most of the flavor depends on the tomatoes, so there will be some tweaking you have to do as the sauce cooks throughout the day. That's fine with me though since I like to taste as I cook. ;)

So here's the closest recipe I can share to what we made... give or take a few dashes here and there. :)

2- 28 oz. cans plum tomatoes
1- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1- 28 oz. can tomato puree
1- 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 lb. ground chuck
1 lb. ground pork
10 garlic cloves
2 medium-large onions, diced
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
5 bay leaves
1/2 cup EVOO
Salt to taste 
Sugar to taste 
Brown sugar to taste
(We probably added about 1 tsp. each throughout the day) 
6 cups hot water (add 1/2 cup at a time later in cooking)
1 cup white wine (optional)

Saute onions in EVOO. Once onions look translucent, add ground chuck. Brown pork in separate pan, but do not completely cook either meat, as they will continue to cook in the sauce pan (leave a little pink). If you're a visual learner like me, the rest of the steps will be easier to follow with pictures:


Drain the pork and return to pan.
Do not drain the chuck/onions- that will be part of the flavor in the sauce.
Really, both meats can go undrained, but I tried to cut the fat just a little ;)
Season both meats with salt and pepper.

Leave meat slightly pink

Good tomatoes are KEY! The preference is San Marzano (shown on left), but we couldn't get that in puree and peeled, so we went with the next best brands. Although next time, I'll go to a Whole Foods or Fresh Market to make sure I can get all San Marzano. They're the best! Get the San Marzano DOP if you can- if you're a nerd foodie like me, you can read why here.

Blend the peeled and crushed tomatoes (NOT the paste)

Add half of the paste to the tomato mix. 

Place the other half back in the blender with 6 cups of hot water and blend. This will be added throughout the day as the sauce cooks and reduces.

Combine all of the meat into one pan.

Then transfer it to a big pot.

Pour some of the tomato paste and water mixture into the meat pan to "clean" out the rest of the meat, onions, and seasoning. Then transfer it into the large pot as well.

Begin transferring the rest of the tomato mixture into the sauce.

Add seasoning

Mix and simmer for 4-5 hours.
Add sugar, brown sugar, salt, and extra seasoning as needed once the sauce has simmered for at least 2-3 hours.

Sauce will reduce throughout the day. Add paste/water mixture to bring the sauce back up to the "line". The longer the sauce cooks throughout the day, the better the flavor.

Serve on top of an over-sized plate of spaghetti with generous amounts of parmesan cheese. Try to avoid licking the plate when the spaghetti is gone and some sauce remains. ;)


  1. Hello Heather, Looks like I'm your newest follower. Sauce looks awesome. We love spaghetti and I can't wait to try your receipe. Thanks for sharing
    God Bless

  2. I've always wanted to try making home made spaghetti sauce. Yours looks like it turned out pretty tasty.

  3. i was just talking with my best friend about good homemade sauce recipes!! yours sounds (and looks) awesome! thanks so much for always sharing your wonderful recipes. i hope you and matt have a fabulous last few days of january!! xoxox