Bolognese Sauce

16 Oct

(makes 11 cups of sauce)
Bolognese Sauce, as you well know, is the popular ragu style meat sauce that goes into lasagna and atop every type of pasta. The thing that makes this particular version stand out is its higher proportion of vegetables, which makes the sauce less heavy and more tangy. That’s the way my sister taught me years ago and the way I still make it nowadays. I’m willing to bet that that your favourite bottled pasta sauce won’t be as appealing to you after you have made and tasted a batch of this.


  1. Minced Beef (500g)
  2. Carrots (2 medium)
  3. Onion (2)
  4. Celery (¾ head)
  5. Mushrooms (2 cups)
  6. Garlic (8 cloves)
  7. Stewed Tomatoes (2×14.5oz cans)
  8. Tomato Paste (1×6 oz can)
  9. Oxo Cubes (2)
  10. Worcestershire Sauce
  11. Sherry
  12. Bay Leaves
  13. Oregano
  14. Basil


  1. Start by cutting up your vegetables into quarter inch cubes. Since vegetables come in difference sizes to clarify, you should end up with the same amount of diced carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms, i.e. 2 cups each as pictured. Also peel your garlic and put it through a press to mince it.
  2. In a big pot over a low fire (all the way in this recipe), brown the minced garlic in 3T of olive oil. When the pot is hot enough to sear, add your minced beef. Continue stirring the beef as it cooks, breaking it up with a wooden spatula (square shaped is the best).
  3. When the beef is thoroughly cooked, pour in the stewed tomatoes and tomato paste (potent stuff so take note this recipe calls for a small 6 oz can as pictured). In one cup of hot water, mash up 2 Oxo cubes to create your stock, and then add this to the pot as well.
  4. When your tomato-beef mixture is boiling, add your diced vegetables and 8 bay leaves. Simmer for an hour. If the heat is right, there should be no sticking at the bottom of the pot but you should still stir occasionally. There should be no need to add any more water as the vegetables will release water as they disintegrate.
  5. At the end of the hour, add 2t salt, 1T pepper, 1T paprika, 4T sugar, 1T worcestershire sauce, 1T oregano, 1T basil and bring to a second simmer for another hour. Then cover and remove from the fire to allow the sauce to thicken. It is best if the sauce is left overnight, but in any case a few hours. After the thickening, taste to see if any additional seasoning is required.
  6. This recipe (intentionally) makes a lot of sauce and you should probably be prepared to store some away in the freezer for later use. When serving, remove bay leaves (they should still be intact), and reheat the amount you need with a dash of sherry.
  7. For a richer sauce and depending on the actual dish using the sauce, I sometimes mix in a dollop of marscapone as a finishing.


  • Why is it sometimes called Bolognaise Sauce?
    That’s the French name for the same thing, you know like parmesan instead of parmigiano.
  • Why don’t we use fresh tomatoes?
    Cause then we’d have to blanch, peel and de-seed them, and then we’d end up with stewed tomatoes anyway.
  • Only recently have I discovered how close this recipe is to the traditional way ragù alla bolognese is to be made, as decided by the good peoples of Bologna, Italy. What the difference? Not too much. This recipe leaves out the pancetta (a type of bacon) and red wine but includes mushrooms.

Posted by on October 16, 2009 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Recipe


Tags: , , , ,

3 responses to “Bolognese Sauce

  1. YeeLing

    November 21, 2009 at 9:07 am

    THANKS. This recipe is awesome. I halved the sugar (probably because the organic vegetables and tomatoes were extra sweet!).

    It’s also a fabulous “hide-the-vege” sauce for kids’ pasta. I blitz-ed the sauce and put it in ice-cube trays to freeze. I use just three cubes each time (per toddler serving). Lasts up to 6 months in a good freezer. Perfect for an over-scheduled-no-time-to-prepare-dinner day.

  2. kobayash1

    November 23, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    The sauce tastes a slightly sweet when you sample the sauce on its own so I know where you are coming from about the sugar. Once you add a healthy dose of cheese, which is salty, then the sweetness makes sense.

    But if its for toddlers (and no cheese I assume), I’d go with halving the sugar. I’ve tasted bottled baby food and it is sooo..bland.

  3. YeeLing

    November 24, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Good point. I’ll be keeping the sugar in my next batch and serving it with cheese. Thanks.


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