The Best-Ever Bolognese
Cozy & Comforting
Three Farm Daughters
There's nothing basic about this classic, traditional bolognese sauce... In fact, this rapid-fire rendition is so rich, delicious and umami-packed you'll want to dollop it on everything! Better yet, it comes together in short order but tastes like time-honored tradition, making it the perfect star of the show when you need impressive restaurant-quality flavor that's big, bold, and robust.
Endlessly versatile, this sumptuous sauce is an extra-special addition to any celebratory feast, weeknight meal or elaborate baked dish. Layer it in oozy, cheesy pasta casseroles and lasagnas, spoon it over toasted sourdough slices for brunch, or mix it through your favorite alfredo recipe for a surprisingly savory pink sauce. Even piled high on a bed of simple al dente pasta shapes and scattered with parmesan, you're in for a savory taste sensation you'll be dreaming about long after dinner's done.
While it's a meaty, unctuous mouthful, this sauce is also completely vegan-adaptable! For a convincing vegetarian or vegan version, simply switch out the ground beef, butter and parmesan cheese for plant-based alternatives!
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Brown Onions, roughly chopped
1 medium Carrot, very finely diced
6 fresh Garlic cloves, crushed
1.5 lbs lean Ground Beef (or plant-based alternative)
2 tbsp imported Italian Tomato Paste, best quality
- 3 tsp dried Oregano
3 dried Bay Leaves
1 ½ tsp Dark Brown Sugar
2 tsp Onion Powder
¼ tsp freshly-cracked Black Pepper
- 28oz can Crushed Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
1 cup Veggie or Chicken Broth
1 tbsp Butter (or plant-based buttery spread)
½ cup Flat-leaf Parsley, roughly chopped
Plenty of freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan on low-medium heat, and saute the chopped onion and carrot until the onion is until very soft and translucent, with a slightly jammy consistency. Cook it low and slow for 10-15 mins, reducing the temperature if you notice the onion is getting brown in places. (Your patience will be rewarded here with a sweet, well-rounded flavor base, so don’t rush this step!)
Next, turn up the heat and crumble in the ground beef, stirring and breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon. Cook for 7-10 minutes on high until thoroughly browned with no pink remaining.
Add the crushed garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant and tomato paste turns a deep, toasted hue. If needed, add a splash more olive oil to help release the aromatics into the other ingredients. (Frying off the tomato paste with this method “wakes up” its rich umami flavor and brings it to life!)
Next, add the canned crushed tomatoes, dried oregano, bay leaves, brown sugar, onion powder and black pepper. Carefully pour in the broth and bring to just below boiling point, stirring occasionally. Once bubbling rapidly, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 20-25 mins (the longer the better, if time permits) Continue stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced, adjusting the temperature so nothing sticks on the bottom of the pan.
As the sauce simmers, give it a good stir every 5-10 minutes, scraping down the sides of the pot as you go to capture all the concentrated flavors. Toward the end of the cooking time, add another ½-1 cup of boiling water to thin out the consistency, then continue simmering until slightly reduced again and the sauce “comes together”, about 10 minutes more.
Once the sauce is thick, rich, and smells absolutely heavenly, stir through a generous knob of butter for a glossy, velvety finish and rich mouthfeel. Season to taste, adjusting the flavor balance with a pinch more brown sugar if your canned tomatoes are especially acidic.
Finally, remove the pan from the heat and stir through the chopped parsley to lift the sauce with herbaceous brightness. Serve with plenty of finely grated parmesan cheese and black pepper.
Where you take this delicious sauce next is totally up to you! Use it at once in your favorite baked pasta recipe, spoon it over al dente pasta, or freeze for a later date - if you can resist it for that long!
This robust bolognese sauce freezes and reheats beautifully - so make a double batch, divide into containers and allow to cool completely before stashing in the freezer for a speedy weeknight meal or zero-fuss lasagna layer in record time!