Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bolognese Sauce – Hip Hip Hazan!

This bolognese sauce is dedicated to the late, great Marcella Hazan, who passed away in September, at the age of 89. She was considered the Julia Child of Italian food, and at a time when most Americans though “bolognese” was spaghetti sauce with chunks of hamburger it, Marcella taught us just how magnificent this meat sauce could be.

One thing that always surprises people making this recipe for the first time is the absence of garlic. Hazan railed against the common belief that garlic should be added to any and all Italian recipes. She once wrote, “the unbalanced use of garlic is the single greatest cause of failure in would-be Italian cooking,” and “Garlic can be exciting when you turn to it sporadically, on impulse, but on a regular basis, it is tiresome.”

Would a few minced garlic cloves ruin this incredibly delicious pasta sauce? Probably not, but since this is supposed to be something of a tribute, I decided to remain true. Speaking of ingredients, I used ground beef here, but I’ve also done this with cubed chuck roast, which works wonderfully as well.

Anyway, I really hope you give this classic bolognese a try, and if you do, and there’s some extra wine around, please raise a glass, and toast the “Nonna” of Italian cuisine in America. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 cup finely diced onions
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1 1/2  tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups white wine
1 can San Marzano plum tomatoes (28-oz), about 3 cups
2 cups water, or as needed

90 comments:

Weibaby said...

Hi Chef John, just wondering when you are simmering the sauce, do you cover the pot or leave it open? why and why not? Thanks :)

Chef John said...

Uncovered, since you want the water to simmer out, leaving a thick rich sauce.

Ice Pandora said...

Mhmmm looks really good c: Xx

hiuh bunbv said...

Is it possible to do that in a pressure cooker, if not, why is that?

kathleen Miles said...

this looks great, John! I know I'm the boss of my Bolognese, but why no garlic? Would I ruin it if I added garlic?

Marijane said...

I have been making Marcella's Bolognese sauce for 20+ years exactly as she wrote the recipe. It is delicious, and though I've tried many others over time, none have been better than this! It freezes beautifully, too. Thanks for bringing this amazing recipe to the attention of others, in Marcella's memory. Ciao!

Unknown said...

pretty neat, at least for american standards!

I will try that tho, ty!

Marwan Dirani said...

Chef John, you forgot the nutmeg in the list of ingredients.

Chef John said...

Dustin, I accidentally deleted your comment. She didn't use anchovies, so I didn't, but I'm sure it's a common addition for some salt.

Chef John said...

Kathleen, OMG! You didn't read the post!! ;) (please see post for garlic answer)

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings Chef, no disrespect to donia Marcella but I'll be sure to trick up her recipe jest' a tad.

I say forgit' da' nutmeg but yes to da' garlic and sum' capers, and sum' anchovies and lastly sum' red pepper flakes or sprinkles as my finicky-lady friend prefers to call 'em.

And it be your fault dat' I now cook wit' anchovies 'cause you done turned me onto dem'.

Thanks! Your da' best!

Scott Barber said...

Grandpa won't be cookin' any more spaghetti and Safeway marinara sauce for the kids... we be goin' crazy with Bolognese!

Mark said...

This looks to be the inspiration behind you spicy sausage ragu pasta sacue recipe. Love that easy recipe but I always wondered about the white wine only instrucions.

So I have to ask can I use red wine? I always have a bottle of red on hand but not so much white.

Will have to try this one soon.

Thanks,
Mark

Matt D said...

No anchovies when using a meat sauce. Its a rule.

Chef John said...

I've used red wine before just to use up, and it works fine, but I prefer the softer edge of the white.

bdwilcox said...

Chef John, you are WRONG. You are the Willie Mays of your bolognese.

Vinny Ferrara said...

Would only using one pound of beef ruin the consistancy? I can only get ground beef by the pound and if i buy 2 pounds the other half would end up going to waste

fany said...

Hi Chef John!!
I loved your recipe, will give it a try!! Btw, do you think that cooking and food can be considered art?

fany said...

Hi Chef John!!
I loved your recipe, will give it a try!! Btw, do you think that food and cooking can be considered art? Thank you!!

Roberto said...

Chef John:

At the risk of picking nits, I'll say you nailed the pronunciation of "bolognese" .......... "tagliatelle", not so much.

The Italian letter combination "gn" is tricky. You correctly pronounced like the "gn" in "Poignant,". The letter combination "gli" in tagliatelle is even more tricky. If you drop the "g" you'll be close and if you replace "gli" with the Spanish "LL" you'll be near perfect.

Joe Sixpack said...

Great recipe I love using a little white wine in the veggies and red wine once the meat browns but I'll be making this tomorrow as written but 1? is that a 4 quart sauce pan I just bought a All-Clad 4 quart pan

Joe Sixpack said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peter Hansen said...

Other bosses of bolognese:
Jon Benet
Art Vandalay
Tina Fey
Faye Dunaway
Sade

Peter Hansen said...

Other bosses of Bolognese:
Jon Benet
Art Vandalay
Tina Fey
Faye Dunaway
Sade

Chef John said...

Use 2 pounds!

Chef John said...

Or just make half a recipe.

5318008 said...

Chef John, does a "traditional" bolognese have and sugar added to it? The store-bought sauces (abominations, I know) all seem to be a lot sweeter than the traditional home mades recipes.

Michael Minasian said...

Chef John -

I hate to be that guy... but Bolognese al Ragu doesn't have tomatoes in it... just tomato paste! Bologna says keep your tomatoes out of your Bolognese!

Michael Minasian said...

Chef John -

I hate to be that guy... but Bolognese al Ragu doesn't have tomatoes in it... just tomato paste! Bologna says keep your tomatoes out of your Bolognese!

Chef John said...

Don't take this the wrong way, but you want me to trust you over Marcella Hazan?

Jon S said...

So do we not actually want to brown the meat before adding the liquids? It looks like we just break it up and get it no longer pink, right?

Chef John said...

Yes, just break it into crumbles and add the rest.

Chef John said...

I think it's a 6 qt.

Marijane said...

In answer to fany's question (above) ...
I have an old copy of Marcella Hazan's cookbook, "The Classic Italian Cookbook" and it is subtitled... "The art of Italian cooking and the Italian art of eating.". I guess she felt that cooking is an art, and I totaly agree with her!

Shira Blank said...

i don't eat red meat, can i try this with ground turkey?

Chef John said...

Ground turkey? No.

Chef John said...

Not only is cooking an art, it's the only one that's appreciated with all 5 senses!

Yellow Reggae said...

Would it be wise to add a touch of sugar to take the edge off the canned tomatoes or does the milk add that sweetness already? I usually use canned plum tomatoes because San marzano is hard to find and very expensive. I usually add sugar to my tomato dishes anyway so what do you think about that? X

Laura and Peter Zeranski said...

Dear Chef John: someone said you were of Polish descent...if so, you might be interested in our two heritage Polish cook books and blog
www.polishclassiccooking.com
Peter

Chef John said...

Sure, you can always adjust a sauce with some sugar!

Jarek Chabros said...

It's a first for me with absolutely no herbs (except the parsley garni). If I was to add some what would you suggest Chef John?

fany said...

Thank you for your answer!! I´m doing an essay for my art class, and I want to talk about food and cooking being art. May I quote your opinion Chef John?
Also, I would appreciate a little more discussion about this subject, if it is possible!

Benyamin Salame said...

hello chef,
thanks alot for all the great recipes. was wondering if i can use any other ingredient without alcohol instead of wine?

Chef John said...

Yes, you can quote me on that!

Chef John said...

Benyamin, you can adjust for sweetness and acidity with vinegar and sugar, but nothing will replace the wine. BTW, the alcohol boils out, so it's not in the finished dish

Tom Houy said...

I was always curious why neither of her sauce recipes (this one, and the other well known one with just butter, onion and crushed tomatoes)included any herbs. Is it uncommon in some areas of Italy to not use herbs in a red sauce?

megaBubble07 said...

Made your recipe for dinner!
First off my home is just full of the smell of this pasta it has permeated every room it's a really rich smell it's amazing the flavor is so excellent hearty and with all this depth
I also feel so damn cool having cooked this :)
Strut yo stuff chef Jon! Tru fan fo life!!!!! XD

Srdjan Stojakovic said...

Chef, what kind of white wine is used? Sweet, dry, expensive, cheap? I've not really cooked with wine before and I would hate to ruin the dish by getting the wrong type.

Chef John said...

Not sweet, just a regular cheap, but drinkable white table wine.

Jasmine Terwilliger said...

Chef John - Just made this for my family and it was a hit. Doubled it and now we'll have left overs tomorrow. Was a lovely rich and hearty meal. We had some of your no-knead ciabatta on the side. Delicious.

Thanks for the great videos

Jasmine

shesfiction said...

Hey Chef John,
In your opinion would the flavour profile of this be noticeably altered if I were to use a food processor instead of doing a fine dice for the aromatic vegetables? I remember you mentioning a difference in taste when you diced the onions for french onion soup as opposed to the traditional french cut..... but in that case onion really was the main flavour. I know there is no way you could possibly know without trying, but Id love to hear your opinion .
Thanks,
-Shannon

Sandra from Montreal said...

We're making this tomorrow - only because I have faith in you, because every recipe we've tried of yours has turned out fantastically! The thought of pasta sauce without garlic or basil is hard to imagine, but I suspect this recipe will be as amazing as all your others...

Chef John said...

I'm sure it would be ok!

Matt Orem said...

Chef John,

I didn't have carrots, but oddly enough, I had parsnips, so I used those instead, sameish shape, right? It was great! I might make it with parsnips from now! Thanks!

Cody said...

How can I get the "method" for cooking without trying to transcribe the video?

Chef John said...

You can't until Allrecipes transcribes the video and adds a link below the Ing., but if you google "hazan bolognese"you will see a hundred written versions.

Gary said...

I've always wanted to learn how to make this sauce...I love the tenderness of the meat in it. With 4-6 hours of simmering - now I know why it's so tender! And the milk and wine...YUM!

Alec006 said...

I can't believe checking out about her I've realized that she died a month ago

Benjamin Bray said...

Hello (: My sauce is currently simmering away but there is a problem :( the milk split or curdled i think? how do i avoid this? As a precaution i did go out and buy a deep pan 3 cheese pizza and a stonebake thin and crispy meat feast pizza so all is ok :D

Mariana Cruz said...

Hi! Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Can I freeze this sauce and what's the best way?

kwh1982 said...

Chef John:

Love your stuff! Chicken D'Ardudini is popular thing around are house with so many other of your recipes. This looks great I just wanted to ask if dry nutmeg will work if I am unable to grate the fresh stuff? Second, will a dutch over work well for this?

Bogdan Belcea said...

Hello Chef :)
Last evening I gave it a try and managed to simmer the sauce for about 3h.
My question is if there might be something to keep in mind if I want to put it again on the burner for another 3h this evening.

I know that I have to watch the liquid level and add water as needed.
Of course I will closely watch it when I will bring it up to temperature and stir it frequently to make sure that I do not burn it.
(The sauce is currently in the fridge)

I do have to say that the ground beef seems a bit stringy and not really that tender.
Anything else that might come to you mind ?

Sandy said...

I am so excited to make this tomorrow. I will be like Roadhouse Patrick Swayze, because this is going to kick some serious butt.

Ruth said...

I hope someday you show us how to make tagliatelle so you can say, "You are the Machiavelli of your tagliatelle."

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings Chef! I'll has ya' knows dat' I now done added this hearty meal recipe to my Food Wishes notebook. And I'll also has ya' knows dat' dis' meal was delish and dat' even my hard to please finicky ladyfriend gave it her stamp of approval. I did nevertheless forego the nutmeg in favor of sum' minced garlic. Sorry Marcella!

Thanks! You're da' best!

Eitan Altshuler said...

With love & respect: But mine came out bland and watery. Too much meat in the dish forbade me from reducing it down more - and the meat got dry. I rec. 500g. And it definitely needs sugar/garlic, maybe some herb. Of course, I'm no Chef John or Hazan.

Eitan Altshuler said...

Mine came out bland. Definitely needs garlic, sugar, maybe herb. I thought it was too much meat. I used 700g. - I rec. 500g or less. Too much meat forbade me from reducing the sauce to a thick, creamy consistency - and the meat came out dry. Simmered gently for 5 hours. Of course, I am no Chef John or Hazan.

Chef John said...

Bland almost always means needed salt. Regarding texture, I used all the same measurements, and it was a beautiful consistency, so not sure what happened.

Monica Del Valle said...

Hi Chef John, I loved this sauce! I didn't have cayenne and I used red wine instead of white and milk, but it was delicious!!, Next time I will try to do it exactly as you say! Greetings from a Costa RIcan!!!

mdb139 said...

I made this last night to go into a lasagna I made for my wife's birthday (otherwise using Chef John's Christmas Lasagna recipe, of course! And since it was for a birthday, I went the extra mile and made "Homemades" lasagna dough -- which was good but overkill).

I really loved this sauce.

I used half beef and half Italian sausage (almost two pounds of meat in total), plus twelve ounces (I think) of chopped mushrooms. I really liked the mellowness of the white wine as opposed to red here. I ended up using two 28-oz cans of tomatoes rather than one can plus water, and thought it was perhaps a bit too saucy for the lasagna, but otherwise was lovely! And since I made a small lasagna (9x13) I had enough sauce left over to freeze two jars!

Thanks Chef John!

Impossibly Ethereal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lin said...

what kind of white wine do u use? lik the name of the bottle

Sinister_Drew said...

Going to make this tonight! Would it make a difference if I cooked with the wine first then the milk?

thisizk8 said...

Hi Chef John, I'm curious to know what keeps the milk from curdling when you add the wine? Thank you!

Jenny Johnston Krell - AHS '84 said...

Hi Chef John,
I am making this right now. Getting ready to add the wine. Do you promise all of the alcohol cooks off? I plan to take some of this to school for a teacher luncheon tomorrow. If I get my kid's teachers drunk, it could be a problem.
Thanks!

Chef John said...

Yes! You're safe!

dot_chan said...

I just finised making this sauce and it was the worst I made. Meat come out hard and dry :( Can someone tell me what I did wrong?

I admit I change recipe a bit. I used pork shoulder, removed fat, membranes and other tissues that won't cook well and ground it. I fried meat breaking it up like chef John said and transfered it all to a pot. Its more handy for me to fry on a pan. Then I deglazed a pan with some water and poured it over meat. I skipped the part with milk and white wine and went straight to adding tomatoes.

I wasn't sure about this step. My mom always taught me to add tomatoes at the end when meat is tender, cause otherwise it won't cook through. Since chef John did it this way, I did too, but can it be the reason why my meat stayed hard? I cooked it for 3 hours, by this time any pork sauce would have meat so tender that it would fall apart. While mine tastes like i would fry it for just 20 minutes.

Or is it how bolognese sauce should taste like? I eat it only in local take out stores where it did taste like it was fried for a short time.

Can anyone give me some advice? Cause now I'm left with a lot of sauce that noone in my family wants to eat and it looks like I will have to eat it by myself.

Chef John said...

When you make that many changes, I can't really help!

dot_chan said...

I wrote a lot, but didn't change much.

- used ground pork instead of ground beef
- didn't add milk and wine
- instead of wine I added water from deglazing pan

I know I will want to try this recipe again, it looks so yummy. So could you at least answer this questions?
1. can ground meat in bolognese sauce be realy soft and tender? So soft that it will start to fall apart and not be dry?
2. I always added tomatoes when meat was tender. Won't adding tomatoes at the beginning stop meat from being tender?
3. why does it need even 6 hours to cook? Will there be any nutritions left after such a long cooking?

Thank you :)

Chef John said...

The wine and milk are crucial!

1. It's ALWAYS soft and tender since it's tiny pieces and cook so long!
2. No
3. To develop flavor and tenderness. Protein doesn't lose nutrition cooking!

dot_chan said...

Thank you, I will try it again.

procitizen oneofmany said...

Hey Chef John, what would you recommend, in general for cooking, not just here, as a non-alcoholic substitute for wine?

Steve Kennedy said...

Probably poking in my 2 cents where it's not wanted. Alcohol evaporates out of the wine at about 175 degrees Fahrenheit. When you bring it to a simmer at 212 degrees, there is no longer any alcohol in the wine. All that is left is the flavor. The alcohol has left the dish and become vapor in the air.

Chef John said...

That's basically true, although a trace amount of alcohol does remain. Not enough to have any effect, but people still think they can't have it.

Unknown said...

Hi Chef,

Can you elaborate on why we're reducing the milk and wine, only to add more water after the tomato is added? That is, what changes if we did not reduce the milk and wine, and left out the excess water? Are those flavors incorporating into the meat & veg as opposed to the sauce?

aaron.y said...

Chef John, somehow my sauce is little sour. not sure if it has anything to do with one spoon of tomato paste that I added. I add little sugar to balance the taste. What else you could do if your sauce is little sour?

Chef John said...

Sorry, but i don't know of a way to un-sour sauces. You could try a tiny pinch of baking soda to neutralize the acid.

Evelina B said...

Hi Chef John, I was wondering if I could use half & half or heavy cream instead of milk? Or would that change the taste? Thanks!

Ivan said...

Hi there. It's Ivan, writing from Italy. I like your site and this recipe is quite the right one, but the traditional recipe is a bit different and it's treasured by the "Accademia Italiana della Cucina" (Italian Cousine Academy).
Give it a a try (metric mesures serving 4):
- 300g gound beef;
- 100g ground unsmoked bacon;
- 50cc red wine (Sangiovese);
- 100cc beef stock;
- 5 ts tomato paste;
- 50g onion diced;
- 50g carrot diced;
- 50g celery diced;
- 1 ts heavy cream;
- salt and pepper to taste.

Olive oil in the pan, then add vegetables. Sauté util onion is transparent, then add meat and cook until brown. Add wine and let evaporate. Add tomato paste, salt, pepper and stock. Simmer over low heat for a couple of hours or untile desired thikness. Add cream when almost done. Enjoy.

michelle herbert said...

Thanks chef for another amazing recipe. I made this with some 'homemades', Rosemary pull apart buns (which I turned into garlic buns) and scalloped taytoes. The hubby made questionable noises as he engulfed his seconds. You never let me down... I swear your recipes are the glue in my happy marriage
Happy cooking,
Michelle