Rag alla Bolognese (Classic Bolognese Meat Sauce)

Rag alla Bolognese (Classic Bolognese Meat Sauce)

21 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, November/December 2009

This is a version of the famous meat sauce of Emilia Romagna, of which Bologna is the capital. Giuliano Hazan's family is from Emilia Romagna, and he learned to make Bolognese sauce from his mother, Marcella, who learned it from her grandmother, Mary. Its classic pairing is with homemade tagliatelle or pappardelle but it's also very good with rigatoni, shells or any substantial pasta shape, preferably one with ridges, that has nooks and cavities to trap the sauce. Adapted from How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan; Scribner, 2005.

Ingredients 20 servings

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Original recipe yields 20 servings
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  • 2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 small or 2 large carrots, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds lean ground beef (90% or leaner)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 28-ounce cans plus one 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Put onions, carrots, celery, butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, 8 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and continue stirring until the meat has lost its red color, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has almost completely evaporated, 18 to 25 minutes. Add milk and nutmeg and cook, stirring occasionally, until the milk has mostly evaporated, 12 to 18 minutes.
  4. Coarsely chop tomatoes and add them and their juice to the pot. Once the tomatoes have started bubbling, reduce the heat to low so that the sauce is barely simmering. Cook uncovered for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. If all the liquid evaporates before the cooking time is up, add water ½ cup at a time as needed. After 4 hours, make sure all the liquid has evaporated before you remove the sauce from the heat. Blot or skim any fat from the surface before serving.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thin with a little water when you reheat it, if desired.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: ½ cup
  • Per serving: 109 calories; 6 g fat(2 g sat); 2 g fiber; 7 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 16 mcg folate; 7 mg cholesterol; 4 g sugars; 2,230 IU vitamin A; 14 mg vitamin C; 75 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 257 mg sodium; 315 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (45% daily value), Vitamin C (23% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: ½
  • Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat

Reviews 21

July 23, 2018
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By: Dennis
This bolognese is considered the gold standard. It should be cooked without changing a thing to truly appreciate it. I have tried dozens of bolognese recipies over the years but always come back to this one. Take my advice. Make it as written at least one before modifying if you must.
September 25, 2016
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By: Jen
It was good....not great. The concern for me, is nutrition value, specifically calories, fat, and carbs. I think they are inaccurately low here given that lean ground beef is used. If I were to make this again, I'd use a very lean ground turkey. However....I also think you can make a really decadent Bolognese and the nutrition value would be near the actual value of this recipe so.......I'll likely splurge on taste next time. Here is a closer look at the true nutrition value, broken down by ingredient https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calories.asp?recipe=102922
August 08, 2016
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By: Sharon B Kwasny
Really enjoyed this, although quite time consuming. I do find it hard to believe that a half cup serving is only a little over 100 calories since 8 oz of ground sirloin is much more than that. Either way, enjoyed it for dinner and have a few containers put away in the freezer for another dinner or two!
January 06, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Not a low calorie sauce, I thought it was Wonderful sauce for a cold winter day. Pros: wonderful, and easy and good Cons: my fitness pal says it has 400 calories per serving
May 25, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
So flavorful!! This sauce was AMAZING. I think it's an easy sauce, it does take a while but it's not like you are having to tend to it every 2 seconds and sweating over it. I found it easy and actually nice to have this sauce cooking and making my house smell delicious. I did add more salt and pepper than the recipe suggested. It makes a huge batch so I'm freezing half of it for later use, which is always a plus in my book. Pros: Easy, flavorful
January 04, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
A Labor of love, but worth it. This sauce is a Labor of Love and takes several hours, however, it is well worth it. It tastes like a classic bolognese sauce instead of a simple meat sauce because the complex flavors are built over time. I make a large batch of this and freeze it in smaller portions. it freezes very well. Pros: Excellent flavor in a true bolognese sauce Cons: Takes time
December 23, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Not a bad dish overall Although i havent cooked this particular recipe, ive made similar dishes along the lines of these instructions. What i would reccommend is adding 2 (if not too hot) finely sliced chillies, with seeds included just before carrots and celery are cooked. Then mix together with a slow cooked tomato sauce, made up of 500-600ml passata, with1 whole lemon squeezed in, along with 1 tablespoon of sugar(sounds alot but long slow cooking will combine sweetness of sugar and freshness of lemon juice) and finally a nice handful of finely chopped basil and finely chopped oregano. Combine with shell or papadelle pasta and bake in the oven on a high heat for 15-30 mins until the sauce and pasta have combined to create a real rustic, italian flavoured meal :) Pros: Good flavours Cons: Not good enough
November 25, 2011
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By: EatingWell User
Wonderful sauce recipe! I use this recipe to with my ample supply of ground venison. It is delicious every time! Pros: Adaptable, delicious! Cons: Long cooking time
October 01, 2010
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By: Sarah Snow
Wow, this sauce is amazing. I never thought I'd like a sweeter tasting sauce, but it's so rich I can't stop eating it! I used one red onion with the yellow and added minced garlic to the veggies. Used one pound turkey with the two pounds beef to cut some of the fat, seasoned all meat with italian seasoning. I used italian stewed tomatoes instead of the plain ones, and added 28oz more. It was meaty enough to go great over spaghetti squash. This recipe makes the low-carb diet seem like a cinch! Can't wait to eat it again.
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