Northern Italian Bolognese Sauce

Many of my favourite recipes are those that have been passed down from family and friends. They’re the dog-eared pages in your grandmother’s recipe books and the butter stained notes of a recipe card written in your mother’s writing. Eight years ago a friend taught me how to make a version of this bolognese sauce recipe, that had been passed down in his family in Northern Italian for hundreds of years. Since then I’ve made a few changes as I made it my own, adding little tweaks here and there until it felt just right. It has also become one of my favourite things to make when we have company coming over. It’s always a big hit and can feed a large crowd (very easy to double!). I usually make it the day before I need it because I find it’s always better after it’s had a chance to sit in the fridge overnight and allow the flavours to develop.

Every time I make it for company, I get the common request to send them the recipe from the blog…and then I remember that I’ve never shared it before. When Garrett requested it this weekend for a nice Sunday night dinner, it seemed like the perfect time to capture it for the ol’ blog archives and pass it onto all of you. In a way the recipes on this blog are my own family recipe book. When I’m looking for something I’ve made before, I’m almost always pulling it up from the recipe index to see what I need to get from the store, or to pass it onto a friend. I like to think that maybe someday you’ll be making this for your own loved ones and passing on the tradition of sharing recipes.

Northern Italian Bolognese Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, cut into spears
  • 1 5.5 fl oz (156 mL) can of tomato paste
  • 2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ⅛ cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large dutch oven or pot, heat olive oil to medium-high. Add onions and basil to oil and cook until onions are soft, about 4-5 minutes. The basil will help cut the harshness of onion while it is cooking. Add garlic spears and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add meat to pot and mix into the onions and garlic. Cook until there is no more raw meat, but do not brown the meat.
  3. Add tomato paste, carrots and green pepper. Use the tomato paste can to add in water until all the ingredients are just covered (approx. 3-4 cans). Stir to combine.
  4. Bring to a soft simmer and add in basil, salt, cinnamon and cloves. The salt will help to draw the water out of the ingredients, but you’ll still need to season it more at the end.
  5. Reduce heat to low. Place a loose lid over the top to prevent splashing and let simmer for at least 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to have a thin layer of oil on the top with no pools of water left on it. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve over spaghetti noodles with freshly grated parmesan cheese. It is best the day after you cook it, so if you’re making it for company, prepare it the day before, cool and then allow the flavours to develop in the fridge overnight. Reheat over medium-low heat.

In a large dutch oven or pot, heat olive oil to medium-high. Add onions and basil to oil and cook until onions are soft, about 4-5 minutes. The basil will help cut the harshness of onion while it is cooking.

 Add garlic spears and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add meat to pot and mix into the onions and garlic. Cook until there is no more raw meat, but do not brown the meat.

Add tomato paste, carrots and green pepper. Use the tomato paste can to add in water until all the ingredients are just covered (approx. 3-4 cans).

 Stir to combine.

Bring to a soft simmer and add in basil, salt, cinnamon and cloves. The salt will help to draw the water out of the ingredients, but you’ll still need to season it more at the end.

Reduce heat to low. Place a loose lid over the top to prevent splashing and let simmer for at least 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You want to have a thin layer of oil on the top with no pools of water left on it. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over spaghetti noodles with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

It is best the day after you cook it, so if you’re making it for company, prepare it the day before, cool and then allow the flavours to develop in the fridge overnight. Reheat over medium-low heat. It also freezes well too!

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