Metro Weekly

Savor Recipe: The Classic Bolognese

An adaptation of Marcella Hazan's classic bolognese recipe

bolognese recipe
Bolognese — Photo: Craig Bowman

If you know much about Italian cooking, you probably know that Marcella Hazan is its grand dame. She is largely credited with bringing traditional Italian cooking to America and this is an adaptation of one of her most well-known recipes. The recipe is a lot of work, so I always double it, as the bolognese freezes extremely well.


  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp butter plus 1 Tbsp for tossing the pasta
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ⅔ cup chopped celery
  • ⅔ cup chopped carrot
  • ¾ lb. ground chuck (or 1 part ground pork to 2 parts ground chuck)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Whole nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1-½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 1-¼ to 1-½ pounds pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table


1. Finely dice the onion, carrot, and celery.

celery, carrots onions for bolognese

2. Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent.

Bolognese onions

3. Add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.

Bolognese -- onions with carrots, celery

4. Add ground meat, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat in the pot and stir well. Cook until the meat has lost its raw, red color.

Bolognese  with meat for cooking


5. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently. Cook until the milk has bubbled away completely (about 15 minutes). Add about 1/8 teaspoon of grated nutmeg, and stir.

6. Add the wine, let it simmer until evaporated.


7. Add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn down heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 hours or more, stirring occasionally.

Bolognese with tomatoes

8. While the sauce is cooking, it might dry out. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water when necessary.


9. At the end, no water should be left and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt. Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.


Questions? Text to Craig at 202-217-0996 or email

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