Ragù alla Bolognese

I’m amazed that I hadn’t posted a pasta bolognese on this site before. I haven’t really done that much Italian food, to be honest. I want to try to change that because I love Italian food! Recently Kramer and I have been trying some fantastic Italian restaurants in New York. One that we are absolutely in love with is in Brooklyn and it’s called Il Passatore. The seafood pasta there is honestly to die for; it’s possibly some of the best pasta that I’ve ever had in my entire life. The bread is phenomenal as well, and they were really my inspiration to come home and make some tasty Italian cuisine for myself. Traditionally, bolognese is not made with a heavy amount of tomatoes, and it is a thick, slightly creamy pasta sauce. I used a bit more tomato than would be served in an Italian restaurant, but a lot of it reduced and the shining star of the ragù was the bacon, the meat, and the additions to the sauce, such as fragrant herbs and white wine. I chose to use campanelle pasta with this bolognese because the little horn-shaped pasta scooped up the maximum amount of sauce per bite.

This is one of the best pasta dishes I have ever made. Kramer and I have been eating leftovers of this pasta bolognese for days; it’s fantastic. I think that the bacon really added something extra special to the sauce; I had never made bolognese with bacon in it before (even though a traditional bolognese will have pancetta in it) and I will never make it without bacon again! I used two whole onions in the sauce as well, which added amazing flavor. Onions are so delicious, especially when sauteed with butter, like I did. I also used garlic (of course), as well as plenty of wonderful spices, like basil, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. I added nutmeg, too, which added a fantastic fragrance and some bite. Bolognese traditionally used red wine, but I had white, so I used that, as well as some half and half (you can use cream, too), which created a beautifully flavorful and creamy bolognese sauce. The longer that you simmer this sauce, the better it tastes, and if you can let it sit in the fridge overnight, the leftovers will be incomparable, I promise! You’ll be eating this bolognese as leftovers just as happily as you ate it the first night that you made it, and you’ll be singing a sad song as you spoon the last of it out onto your plate.

Ragù alla Bolognese
Your ingredients.

Ragù alla Bolognese
Melt your butter in a large pan over medium heat.

Ragù alla Bolognese
Add your onions and celery and saute for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add in the garlic and saute for a minute, until fragrant.

Ragù alla Bolognese
When the onions and celery are softened, add in the bacon and cook until slightly crisp, another 5 minutes or so.

Ragù alla Bolognese
Add in the ground beef and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until cooked through.

Ragù alla Bolognese
When the ground beef is cooked, add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and bay leaves.

Ragù alla Bolognese
Add in the white wine and heavy cream and stir to combine. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour or so, until reduced and slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you see fit (I added in some more red pepper flakes).

Ragù alla Bolognese
Cook your pasta according to package directions and drain.

Ragù alla Bolognese
Add the cooked and drained noodles to the bolognese and stir to combine.

Ragù alla Bolognese
Serve and top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Ragù alla Bolognese
Serves: 6-8
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 28 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried or fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried or fresh basil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or half & half
  • 1 pound pasta
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  1. Melt your butter in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Turn the heat up to medium-high heat and then add in the diced onions and sliced celery. Cook for 5 minutes until softened then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Add in the bacon and cook for 5 minutes or so until slightly crisp. Add in the ground beef and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until cooked through. Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in the white wine and heavy cream or half & half and stir. Bring the bolognese to a simmer over medium heat and cook for an hour or so until reduced, stirring every so often so that it doesn't burn.
  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and add to the bolognese. Stir to combine. Serve and top with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serves 6-8.


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40 Responses

  1. Dana says:

    What a lovely looking Bolognese! I love your choice of pasta, maximizing the ratio of sauce to pasta is held in high regard at my house, especially with sauces as good as this one.

    (And you are so right, if you can manage to let it sit overnight, all of the flavors just mingle and deepen into otherwordly goodness. It’s just so hard to wait…)

  2. Memoria says:

    This pasta dish looks yummy! I want some!

  3. Tina says:

    YUM – YUM! I ‘ve been craving something tomatoey ( ha , is that even a word ?) Everyone always comments I made the best sauce & meatballs , but this would be a nice change . We made your pork recipe , we LOVED it , so good & so easy !Hope you are having a great day !

  4. Jen T. says:

    This sounds amazing! I’m definitely putting this into a to-make list. I may have to wait until it cools down around here, though, because the thought of something on the stove for an hour is about to make me sweat in the 90 degree heat we’ve had here (TMI?).

  5. Juliana says:

    Sydney, what a tasty and lovely pasta dish….it sure sound and looks sooo good :-)

  6. Myriam says:

    Sydney I am new to your blog and I am absolutely in love with it! (I am so serious) Every recipe looks amazing and so yummy! I love how you put pictures of the cooking process, it helps unexperienced cookers like me :)

  7. Mary says:

    Ahh this looks amazing!! I almost always want to make everything you post but my weakness is pasta & this is on my list of meals to make ASAP :)

  8. Anoushka says:

    Just found your website via bake bake bake on livejournal – love it! Your food looks amazing!

  9. Susi says:

    I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner today and have just found it! Thanks for posting the recipe I can’t wait to make it :o)

  10. Erica says:

    What a delicious pasta dish! The perfect family meal.Nice pictures.

  11. Tina says:

    Just had to tell you , I made this for dinner tonight , it was perfect ! We really enjoyed this ! I also made Snickerdoodle Blondies from a earlier post & they were great too! Thank You so much for the best recipes ! Have any good & different ideas for the 4th ? Have a great holiday !!

    • Sydney says:

      Tina: Yay! I just posted the monkey bread mini-muffins that would be great for the 4th! They’ll hold up well in the heat and they are definitely bite-sized, so everyone can enjoy them without a big mess.

  12. Susi says:

    We had this for dinner tonight and we were in love with this meal. Everyone from my 8 year old to my teenager had seconds! This is going into regular rotation! Thanks so much for posting it!

  13. Angela Mears says:

    One of the best pasta recipes ever. I’m not surprised. It looks FANTASTIC. I’ve been wanting to make a hearty bolognese for a while, but the weather has not cooperated… This would really hit the spot right now, though. I’ll dial this up when it starts to cool down a bit!

  14. Sarah says:

    I made this last night, it was DELICIOUS! Time consuming, but totally worth it!

    • Sydney says:

      Sarah: I’m sorry that you thought it was time consuming! Most ragus take at least an hour to simmer, if not 3 or 4 hours, but I’m glad you thought it was worth it!

  15. Sarah says:

    Oh, haha, I’m not complaining! It probably just felt really long to me cause I usually don’t cook anything that takes longer than 30 minutes!

  16. Alison says:

    This looks great, I’m going to have to give it a try! When you’re checking out Italian places in NY, you’ve gotta try La Nora on Cross Bay Blvd in Queens! When I travel up to New York for work, that is a must stop every time. Everything I’ve had there has been outstanding, but thier tortellini and alfredo sauce….out of this world!

  17. Grace says:

    I made this tonight for my mom’s birthday, it was a complete hit with requests for seconds and thirds. Thank you for sharing another awesome recipe! I was able to simmer the sauce for about three hours and it does make a difference! This was my first venture into homemade sauce…I don’t think I’ll be using jar sauce anymore!

  18. Kerryanna says:

    Just finished eating this for dinner. Hubby went back for thirds! I’m hoping to have enough for leftovers. Thanks for the great recipe!
    I’m told I’ve become a good cook – I know I’m bored with average food. Love your blog and loved this easy bolognese.

  19. Nathalie (& Sophie) says:

    Making this for the second time. It’s currently on the stove simmering and I’m tipsy off the rest of the bottle of wine. I don’t normally eat bacon (or pork) but obviously had to add it into the sauce :) Hope you’re well!

    • Sydney says:

      Nathalie (& Sophie): That’s the best part about cooking with alcohol (and possibly one of the reasons I use alcohol in my cooking in the first place…). Hope you guys are well, too! Enjoy all of your many travels! :)

  20. […] beloved dishes: simple pasta with a hearty ragù sauce. The difference between this ragù and the bolognese is very minimal, but in taste and texture, it makes a world of difference. Instead of using ground […]

  21. Gigi says:

    Is it just me or do the photos not display?

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