Hearty Winter Bolognese

Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Beef, Karista's Kitchen, Kid Friendly, Pasta, Pork | 42 comments

Hearty Winter Bolognese
hearty bolognese sauce over pasta from Karista's Kitchen

Hearty Winter Bolognese

When I was little, I remember my Grandmother standing at the stove top stirring her homemade tapioca pudding.

I stood close by, waiting, asking to help, so I could somehow sneak a sample of her delicious recipe.

Grandma smiled and with a twinkle in her bright blue eyes, she said “little one, I think you should dip your finger in the pudding”.  I said “why Grandma?”  She replied “because it will make the pudding taste better”.


Food memories are often the most enduring. Filled with moments of kindred spirit, sanctuary… love.

These days, nothing says Sunday love better than a big bowl of Bolognese sauce over pasta; pleasure for the palate.

Bolognese isn’t just a meat sauce. It’s a slow braised Italian meat sauce with deep, satisfying flavors ready to blanket your favorite pasta.

Like every Italian Nonna, traditional Bolognese recipes vary from chef to chef.   Typically, Italian Bolognese is prepared with pancetta, soffritto (onions, carrots, celery) white wine, minced beef, pork or veal and milk.

However, many American versions are prepared with olive oil, red wine and a mixture of ground beef and pork. I have several versions myself, depending on what I have on hand, or what flavors I’m in the mood to use.

However you decide to prepare your Bolognese, allowing the sauce to simmer stove top for several hours will create a most delicious experience.

And… don’t forget to dip your finger in the sauce.  It’ll make it taste better. :)

Hearty Winter Bolognese

Serves 6-8


1 lb ground beef (local and grass fed beef tastes best)

1lb Hot or mild Italian pork sausage (if you don’t eat pork, sub with Hot Italian chicken sausage)

2 medium carrots, finely diced

1 yellow onion, diced

1 red onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry red wine ( I use DaVinci Chianti for a perfect sauce)

2 sprigs oregano

1 bay leaf

1 28 ounce jar crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


In a Dutch oven or stock pot add the oil and heat over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot add the carrots, onions and celery.  Sauté until the vegetables are wilted.  Then stir in the garlic and sauté a minute longer.

Next add the ground beef and sausage and let the meat cook through.  Once cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated, stir in the wine.

Let the wine decrease by half and then add the oregano, bay leaf, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and season with a little salt and pepper.

Let the sauce simmer stove top uncovered on low for about 2 hours.

Before serving, remove the oregano and bay leaf.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and then stir in the ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley.

Serve with your favorite pasta and garnish with a handful of grated parmesan.

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  1. This version looks amazing Karista! This is one of my husband’s top 5 favorite dishes and I have not made it in a while. Next time, I will try yours!

    • Thanks Alyssa! It’s one of my family’s top 5 as well. So funny because I haven’t made this in a while and I made it over the weekend. They thought they were in food heaven. :)

  2. I love the story about your grandma–so sweet! That’s the kind of grandma I want to be someday. :)

    • Hahaha! Emmy she was quite a force to be reckoned with most times. One of those Southern farm girls, tough on the outside but a soft heart on the inside. She was a character and I still have small glimpses of things she used to say or do when I was visiting. Have a fabulous week my friend!

  3. This looks delicious Karista! I love hearing other people’s bolognese recipes – and stories! I’ve never tried adding spicy sausage before. Will have to give that a go…

    • Thanks Vanesther. I love pork sausage so it gets added to many recipes in my kitchen. :) Have a fabulous week!

  4. What a heart-warming story about your Grandmother, Karista.. I can just picture you with her! It’s great to have an authentic recipe, mine is just stuff thrown in, I also didn’t know about the braising step.. so I’m happy to have this recipe:) xx

    • Thanks Smidge! We can’t get enough Bolognese around here and this is my crew’s fave version. Slow braising this dish really requires nothing more than simmering stove top for about 2 hours or more. Sometime’s I’ll let it simmer the afternoon, adding water(or wine) if it gets too dry. Enjoy :)

  5. Karista, what a beautiful childhood memory – I can almost picture the scene too.
    I love the idea of adding the sausage, think I shall have to try that.
    Have a beautiful day.
    :-) Mandy xo

    • Thanks Mandy! I do love the spicy sausage in the Bolognese. Gives it a little kick. :)

  6. This sounds great, lovely post! I did my bolognese recipe a while back. I’d throw in 1-2 more bay leafs just for good measure (I love bay). Sounds great. I never make mine with pork, but I shall have to try!

    • Thanks Frugal. Yes, one of my fave Italian Chef’s, Lydia Bastanich, always adds 2 or 3 bay leafs in her bolognese and Sunday sauce. I’m must not a huge fan of bay leaf for some reason. It could be that once, I used way too many bay leafs and ruined a sauce. After that I figured just one would do. LOL!

  7. one of my favorite dishes on earth!

    • Thank you Manu!

  8. Sounds like my Grams…all those old gals studied from the same book, didn’t they?
    Love your sauce, but it needs mushrooms… 😉

    • They sure did. LOL! I love the addition of mushrooms, but my family not so much. I love how every family makes a Bolognese sauce their own. That is the pure beauty of a good sauce! Have a fabulous week :)

  9. Fabulous Bolognese, Karista! – I think it is time for a good dish of fresh pasta with delicious Bolognese :-)

    • Thank you Anne. It’s definitely a family favorite. Sometimes a hearty pasta dish just fits the day. :)

  10. I am making this! Love that it doesn’t have the milk that so many have…that always seems a litle ridiculous to me. YUM!

    • Thanks Erina! I make the traditional version for clients but I feel the same, the milk sort of seems pointless. Makes it a bit more creamy if using whole milk and sweetens the overall flavor of the sauce. And… I have two dairy intolerant daughters. That sort of dictates what I prepare at home. LOL!

  11. This looks comforting and tasty!

    • Thank you! Enjoy :)

  12. Oh, this looks so good! I could eat the whole plate, and I never eat porcelain!

    • Hahaha!! Well, I think licking the plate is allowed. :)

  13. Yum, yum, yum! I need to shake up my pasta repertoire and this looks like a really great place to start! Delicious as always Karista!

    • Thanks Maria! BTW, love your new gravatar photo! So pretty friend :)

  14. It’s incredible the memories that food can evoke, Karista! I have fond memories of my Grandma’s kitchen and her baking. Your Bolognese looks so good I think I’d skip the pasta and just eat a bowl of the sauce. I have some Italian beef sausage in the freezer and I think this is a terrific way to use it. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    • Thank you Hannah for stopping by! I agree, the sauce is so good i could also eat just a bowl of the sauce. LOL!

  15. Without a doubt, your grandmother was right, a finger dipped into any dish makes it taste better :)

    • Hahaha! Absolutely Tandy :)

  16. I read your post first thing in the morning and it started my day with a smile. You always share delicious recipes with us, but it is the personal and heartfelt stories that endear you to your readers Karista. This post made me want to pull up a chair in your kitchen and have a long chat — preferably while sampling some of your dishes!

    • Awww…. thank you Barb! That’s what I always hope for when I’m writing a post, or any food column. Wish we lived closer, I’d invite you over for some sampling and coffee! :)

  17. I love your story Karista!!!!!!!! And thanks for sharing the background on bolognese sauce — yours looks wonderful as always!

    • You are so welcome Danny. :) I do love food history, and sometimes I have to stop myself when I launch into a short dissertation about the history of a particular food. LOL!

  18. Food memories compel so many senses – they are really, so powerful and transportive!

    This looks like the perfect weekend dish for the upcoming week :)

    • Thank you Ksenia! Yes, food memories are one of three, top memories we Adults remember from childhood. Even if the food wasn’t good, we always remember. LOL!

  19. Food memories are indeed the most lasting. That’s why I try to have stuff baking when the kids get home from school once in awhile. That’s one of my own favorite childhood memories. Your bolognese looks luscious. This week we are expecting a ton of snow, so this will be the perfect meal! Thanks!

    • So true Melanie! You are such a good Mom, food memories are one of three top memories for adults. You have a lucky family. :) Stay warm and enjoy the weekend!!

  20. Karista, I am sorry I am having a problem with my comments going through. I adore this recipe and it looks so warm and comforting for these cooler days. A sauce that needs to be made with love. I also love your little gobbling irons (forks and knives) how adorable! Take care, BAM

    • Thanks BAM! No worries, it seems many people have had trouble with the comments section lately. I always have trouble commenting on a Blogspot blog. Enjoy the Bolognese, it’s a lovely cool weather dish. Have a fabulous week!

  21. Ultimate comfort food and ultimate Sunday dinner indeed. I love Bolognese and the many variations out there. All equally tasty, all delicious and all equally comforting too.

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