So What is a Bolognese Sauce?
Bolognese sauce is likely the sauce you remember as a kid eating at the table for dinner that your mom made. It’s a meat-based pasta sauce that is engrained in Italian cuisine. It’s named in honor of the city of Bologna, where it’s most commonly seen.
Bolognese vs Marinara Sauce?
A Bolognese is a meat sauce, with ground beef that also has vegetables like carrots, green pepper, and onion in it. Marinara sauce is a tomato-based sauce; that typically has garlic, herbs, and onions. The sauce is said to have originated from Old World origins and is the most commonly used Italian-American cuisine choice. If you’re looking for a marinara sauce recipe then take a look at my Super Easy Marinara Sauce recipe or Lasagna Love ❤
Hamburger or Ground Beef?
You want to use a higher quality of meat for the sauce than a regular hamburger, as a ground beef choice. Many people think they’re the same thing but they are not. The difference in hamburger or ground beef is that ground beef has to come from a specific part of the cow and then the ground. Hamburgers, however, can have meat trimmings from primal meats also included in them. For this reason, a hamburger is usually more moderately (cheaper) priced.
There are two ground beef choices, ground round or ground chuck. Ground round comes from the hind leg, and I prefer to use ground beef in this sauce because it’s one of the leanest. Ground chuck comes from the shoulder and is great for juicy hamburgers as it has more fat.
The Magic Meat Combo:
I prefer to use a leaner cut of ground beef because I also add Italian sausage to my Bolognese sauce. As a rule, I always add Italian sausage to the sauce at a 1 to 1 ratio of ground round to Italian sausage. This is helpful to know if you’re going to make a big batch of the sauce!
Look for a mild Italian sausage to add additional depth to the sauce. Buy the sausage in the casings and then slice the casing releasing the sausage meat right into the pan. Discard the sausage casing and repeat until all of the sausages is in the pan and starting to brown.
The amazing combination of flavor profile of high-quality ground beef and the spiciness of the Italian sausage is well noted in the sauce.
Easy Bolognese Sauce Ingredients:
- Pound of pasta uncooked
- Ground round
- Italian sausage
- Peeled tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Onions, diced small
- Carrots, diced small
- Celery, diced small
- Olive oil
- Red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley for garnish
How Do I Make Easy Bolognese Sauce?
Combine the ground round and Italian sausage in a pot to brown.
Drain the meat well and set aside in a separate bowl.
Return the pot to the stove and add diced onion, carrots, celery, and garlic with a little oil and sauté over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until vegetables are tender. This combination of onion, carrot, and celery is traditionally referred to by the French as Mirepoix. It’s usually used in a ratio of 2 parts onion to one part of celery and carrot.
Note, I have added mushrooms here because I had some in the refrigerator. People have strong opinions about mushrooms’ taste, so include them if you are so inclined, but it’s not necessary by any means!
Developing flavors from the start with sautéing our Mirepoix with mushrooms for earthiness.
Now that the vegetables are sautéed, add back in the browned meat and combine.
Add the can of peeled tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce to the saucepan. To help break up the whole plum tomato, be sure you don’t get large chunks in the sauce, use a hand potato masher.
Let’s get some great flavors into this sauce! Add the basil, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Be careful not to be heavy-handed with your pepper flakes… a little goes a very long way!
The sauce needs to simmer for at least 45 minutes to develop the flavors. This is especially important because aluminum can taste out of the sauce. Let’s get some great flavors into this sauce! Add the basil, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Be careful not to be heavy-handed with your pepper flakes… a little goes a very long way!
Taste, taste, taste and adjust near the end of the cooking time. Now is the time to add salt and pepper to taste and perhaps some more pepper flakes to adjust to your heat level. Start a pot to boil for your pasta while the Bolognese Sauce finishes cooking.
After you cook your pasta by following the directions on the box, be sure NOT to rinse your pasta! The starch on the noodles will help the sauce adhere to the noodles. Equally important is the pasta water. Reserve a cup to a cup and half of pasta water to thin the sauce on the noodles if needed to ensure the noodles are coated well with the sauce.
Plate noodles, generously ladle on the sauce, and sprinkle with fresh parsley garnish.
Tips & Tricks
- To maximize flavors combine both Italian sausage and Ground Beef.
- Use a hand potato masher to combine your Italian Sausage and Ground Round.
- Use a hand potato masher to break up your whole plum tomatoes.
- Always save a cup or so of pasta water to help thin your sauce if needed once you toss the pasta in the sauce. I promise you will thank me.
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