by: Max M Rasmussen

Bolognese sauce for "Spaghetti Bolognese"

A portion of pasta Bolognese - Max M Rasmussen
There are many recipes of meat sauce for pasta. Most are based on the classic Italian bolognese. It's still one of the best recipes of, but there are many different versions of it online. So far as I could find out, so this version is very close to the "original".


Mirepoix (a very classic basic mixture to casserole dishes in both the French and Italian cuisine. The name, however, sofrito in Italian.)

  • 100 g (3.5 oz) carrot, chopped into small cubes
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) onion, chopped into small cubes
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) celery, chopped into small cubes


  • 500 g (1 lbs) ground beef
  • 500 g (1 lbs) minced pork


  • 1 can (400 g (14 oz)) peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can (140 g (5 oz)) tomato paste
  • 2½ dl (1 cup) red wine
  • 2½ dl (1 cup) milk


  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic (optional. Italians themselves do not agree from one city to the next whether it is right or not.)

for frying

  • ½-1 dl olive oil


Brown the mirepoix mix until the onions are translucent and slightly golden.

Brown then the meat along with the mirepoix.

It is important to brown it well! It is not enough to just heat it up until it becomes gray. If it is not browned enough, the color of the sauce is will be to light. But what's even worse is that it will also have a horrid taste. Not just boring, but horrid.

Pour all the ingredients into the pan.

Bring to a simmer without a lid, on low heat, until it is cooked down to a thick sauce. It should be cooked down so far that it becomes "meat with dressing on" instead of "sauce with meat in."

It should simmer for a looong time. It is the second most important thing about the recipe. Almost all the liquid should be simmered away.

I usually let it simmer for at least 2 hours. 3 hours is better yet. More if you have the patience. Often I need to add a glass of water or two if it is reducing too fast.


The list of ingredients may seem a bit overwhelming. But it is not so bad. To give a little birds eye view I have divided it up into "functional groups".

Brown it. The browning of the mirepoix and the meat is the most important part of what gives the dish the right flavor, and it is also the part of the recipe that is the most troublesome. But take your time to do it. It's worth it.

In many recipes it says that you have to pour in the wine, and reduce it in before you put any other liquid in. This makes no sense. Evaporation is evaporation. Just let it all simmer down together.

All the ingredients ready to use. - Max M Rasmussen
The diced vegetables are browned and thoroughly fried. - Max M Rasmussen
When you fry mincemeat it has a tendency to lump together in the beginning. That is due to a chemical process. Just keep stirring until it is fried grey, at which point it stops lumping. - Max M Rasmussen
You cannot brown the meat if there is still water in the pot. The water keeps the temperature at 100°C (212°F), and the browning only begins at 130°C (266°F). So the water has to be boiled completely away. - Max M Rasmussen
When the liquid is gone, then keep browning the meat. This is the most important step for a good bolognese. The taste comes from the browning. The browner the meat, the better the bolognese. - Max M Rasmussen
Only once the meat is well brown is it time to move on. - Max M Rasmussen
At this point you can just add all of the ingredients you have not added yet. This will result in a "wet meat sauce". Try tasting it at this stage. Then you will be surprised how important it is to let it simmer and reduce for a looong time. - Max M Rasmussen
Once you can scrape the bottom of the pan and the sauce does not float right back, the bolognese is done. It should have a deep dark red brown (auburn) color. The color and the taste is deeply concentrated at this stage. Which is why you don't need much of it to flavour your pasta. - Max M Rasmussen