my sunday sauce: a bolognese sauce

I used to look for recipes to make that would take just a short time, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, from start to finish. Quick preparation, quick cook time, as few pots as possible – those were my criteria. Well, that plus a glossy magazine photo of the fabulous finished dish.

Of course, those recipe selection criteria existed in the Before I Learned To Cook era. Those were the days when the George Foreman grill reigned supreme, and every meal seemed to be comprised of grilled chicken. Grilled chicken on a salad. Grilled chicken over rice. Grilled chicken over beans and rice. Grilled chicken with steamed broccoli.

We don’t eat a lot of chicken now. I’m sure you understand why.

But this is a different era. My confidence in my ability to cook, though still lacking, is much better than it was. I’ve made dishes and meals that I’m proud of. Heck, I’ve put them on display here. In public! For you to judge!

And you all have been so very kind, by the way. I love you for that.

The point is, I’m no longer intimidated by a recipe that calls for more than 30 minutes, from the first chop of the knife until cooked food is on the plate. In fact, I often crave a lengthy time in the kitchen, wearing my red apron and my flip flops, moving between sink and stove and oven to prepare something amazing (hopefully) for my family to eat. And maybe it’s selfish, but a three or four hour cook time means I’m stuck at home, with nothing to do except stir a pot, flip through a magazine, read a book with Madeline, or catch up on Twitter.

I love this at-home time, with no need to go anywhere – a Stay At Home Day, as my 5 year old son calls it.

This Bolognese sauce provided me with a fantastic Stay At Home Day on Sunday. For close to four hours, I stirred this pot of deliciousness. I began sampling little spoonfuls after the first hour, and with each hour of simmering, the flavors intensified and became more rich and robust. Though not a traditional choice, I served the sauce with bucatini, mostly because I like the slipperiness and smooth roundness of the pasta. Bucatini is a pasta made for slurping. It’s fun for kids, which means that it’s also fun for me. Plus, I love saying bucatini. Boo-ka-teeeeny.

I couldn’t go anywhere on Sunday afternoon, and then I was rewarded with bucatini with Bolognese sauce for dinner. It was pretty much heaven.

bolognese sauce | the merry goumet



Bolognese Sauce

Serve this meat sauce over the pasta of your choice - the classic is tagliatelle, but truthfully, nearly any pasta will work - and with a hefty grating of fresh Parmesan cheese on top.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (26- to 28-ounces each) tomato puree
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot, and cook vegetables until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more, or until garlic is fragrant. Add beef, pork, and a big pinch of salt; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up any clumps, until meat is browned and none of it is pink. Add milk and Italian seasoning, and cook, stirring often until the milk has evaporated almost completely, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add white wine; cook, stirring often, until the wine has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree; when the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat down to low. Simmer for at least 2 hours (and up to 4 if you have the time). Salt and pepper to taste.

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16 Responses to “my sunday sauce: a bolognese sauce”

  1. 1
    Kathryn — January 18, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

    This does sound like the absolute perfect way to spend a Sunday.

  2. 2
    Mal @ The Chic Geek — January 18, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

    I love bolognese, yours sounds absolutely wonderful!

  3. 3
    Paula — January 18, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

    Your Sunday Bolognese sauce may just become my everyday pasta sauce. I love the recipe and I’m going to try it…surprise my husband with it soon and see what he thinks. I not only got a great recipe here today but I also learned about a new pasta. Had to look up Bucatini….I’ve never purchased or seen it before but that’s ’cause I wasn’t looking for it. Now I will.

    Thanks for your recipe:)

  4. 4
    Gail — January 18, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

    This is how I make my bolognese, and it’s worth every cotton-pickin’ minute I stand over it, watching, gauging, sniffing, tasting, stirring.

    Love. It.
    And, you, of course.


  5. 5
    Carol Sacks — January 18, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

    That looks so comforting, Merry Jennifer. And, a sweet post to complement your gorgeous sauce.

  6. 6
    Paula- bell'alimento — January 18, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    Bolognese is one of my favorites and worth every minute it takes to make it. For me stirring, chopping and checking are oh so therapeutic (and way cheaper than therapy ; ) xoxo

  7. 7
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — January 18, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

    Bolognese is a favorite of mine… Like many recipes, I love the process almost as much as I love the dish. I’ve learned over time that the process of cooking and baking is sometimes my favorite part. Lovely post!

  8. 8
    cathy — January 19, 2012 @ 6:30 am

    This is just the technique I use for bolognese. Although I’m the only meat eater in the house, I make a huge pot of it a couple times a year. It makes the house smell so darn good! (PS Next time, try adding a couple of parmesian rinds.)

  9. 9
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — January 19, 2012 @ 9:04 am

    I can only imagine how marvelous this makes your house smell. What a lovely Sunday tradition!

  10. 10
    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — January 19, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

    Love your bolognese. And love a recipe that takes a while to prepare. I do my best thinking standing over the stove stirring and tasting recipes. For me, it’s the most relaxing thing I can do. I love to just let my mind wander and get lost in the recipe 🙂

  11. 11
    Winnie — January 22, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

    This looks amazing MJ! I love the idea of an all-afternoon-simmered sauce 🙂

  12. 12
    art and lemons — January 27, 2012 @ 8:35 am

    Nothing compares to a Sunday steeped in good sauce! Can smell it now…

  13. 13
    Marla — January 31, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    Oh how I love a great bolognese sauce like this 🙂

  14. 14
    Beth (OMG! Yummy) — January 31, 2012 @ 11:35 am

    Hi Merry-Jennifer! This type of sauce is a staple in my house – I made one last week and we just kept cooking more pasta until it was all gone. I usually use red wine and omit the milk but I know the milk makes it a traditional bolognese. Don’t you just love the color change from when you first put in the puree and then after it has simmered for hours? The smell and color are the best! Nice post – thanks for sharing your Sunday afternoon with us 🙂

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