bowl of bolognese

Make Your Best Bolognese Yet

Publish Date February 1, 2024 3 Minute Read
Author MyMagazine Staff

Let’s start with a bit of Bolognese background. Ragù Bolognese is the celebrated sauce of Bologna, situated in the heart of Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy. Americans may think of it as tomato sauce with meat, but more properly, it’s meat sauce with tomato. In fact, some Bolognese sauces have no tomato in them at all. The meat itself can be all beef or a mixture of beef, pork and veal. Today’s Bolognese sauces are slightly lighter than their centuries-old predecessors, and you can still find variations made with combinations of ham, pancetta or chicken livers.

The most important ingredient in Bolognese is patience. You can take shortcuts and make a fine Italian-inspired Bolognese, but long, gentle cooking is what sets apart a truly transcendent Bolognese from a good one. It’s an ideal undertaking for a calm weekend, or even a quieter weekday at home. You can fuss over it, but you don’t have to — Bolognese mostly requires periodic check-ins and the time to lazily bubble away into perfection. The secret to Bolognese’s multilayered flavor is adding ingredients in stages and letting them slowly simmer until they build up an almost caramelized base. It won’t happen if you rush. Stirring, tasting, tweaking and waiting are all part of the game. And oh, what a reward awaits!

Make Bolognese Your Own

Because it has so many variations, Bolognese takes well to adaptations.

  • Avoiding nightshades like tomatoes? Omit tomato paste and swap canned whole tomatoes with 2 cups of low-sodium beef broth.
  • Not eating dairy? Use any unsweetened, unflavored nondairy alternative instead of dairy milk.
  • Meat free? Use one pound refrigerated plant-based grinds.

Shortcut Bolognese

Want to cut down the prep and cook time? You can skip some of the fresh ingredients and use pantry substitutes for others. See our shortcut recipe below for inspiration: Puree 1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, 1 minute. Add 1 pound ground beef, 2 teaspoons garlic powder or minced garlic; cook, breaking up the meat, until browned, about 5 minutes (safe internal temp. 160°F). Discard all but 1 tablespoon excess fat. Add ᄐ cup red wine and cook until dry, then stir in the tomato puree and reduce heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with 12 ounces cooked rigatoni. Serve, refrigerating any leftovers.

The Best Pastas for Bolognese

variety of pasta shapes

A hearty sauce calls for a strong pasta. Long or short varieties work well. You could even get ambitious and make your own. If using dried pasta, look for bronze-cut versions, which have a slight outer roughness that holds the sauce better. If you really want to keep it authentic, it’s important to note that in Bologna, you never see Bolognese served on spaghetti.

  1. Penne
  2. Pappardelle
  3. Tagliatelle
  4. Fusilli
  5. Orecchiette
  6. Rigatoni
  7. Fettuccine

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