In the Kitchen: Hearty Bolognese Sauce

(WTNH) — Heide Lang of The Fig Cooking School demonstrates how to make a hearty bolognese sauce with red wine and pancetta.

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Recipe: Bolognese Sauce


  • 8 ounces pancetta, sliced thick and finely chopped
  • 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 750 ml bottle red wine*
  • 2 28-ounce cans of whole peeled tomatoes, drained and finely chopped (juices reserved)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano


  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Cook the pancetta in a 6-8 quart Dutch oven over medium heat until the meat is beginning to brown.
  3. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the excess fat.
  4. Add the onions to the remaining fat in the Dutch oven and cook until they are soft and glassy, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat for an additional minute.
  5. Stir in the ground beef, pork and veal,* and season with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon finely ground pepper and the nutmeg. Be sure to break the meat apart with your spoon and cook until it is just browned.
  6. Pour in the milk. Simmer and cook until most of the milk has nearly evaporated and very little liquid remains, about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Stir in the wine and simmer again until reduced completely, about 20 minutes.
  8. In the meantime, remove the whole peeled tomatoes from the cans with a slotted spoon and pulse in a food processor or chopper until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped (you may have to do this in several batches depending on the size of your food processor or chopper). Reserve the tomato juice.
  9. Add the chopped tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, can of crushed tomatoes, oregano, and 1 cup of water. Mix well, and add an additional teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Mix again.
  10. Cook on high heat until the mixture comes to a boil and place in the oven for 3 hours, giving the sauce a good stir every hour. If it is still watery after 2 hours, remove the lid to allow the liquid to evaporate so the finished sauce is creamy.
  11. Remove from the oven and serve over spaghetti or linguine with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and good, crusty French or Italian bread

*You may also use meatloaf mix, but the pre-packaged mixes tend to be a little fatty and it is better to buy the ground beef, pork and veal separately.

* We prefer to use a medium or full-bodied red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux, or Chianti.

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