Bolognese Sauce From Our Kitchen to Yours

My husband has been trying to recreate his grandmothers “meat sauce” recipe for the last 6 months. She was a great cook who never wrote anything down. She cooked “by feel”. For those of us anal retentive chefs who like a proper recipe to be typed out, with exact weights and measures, all ingredients listed and organized in a book…by category…then alphabetically….this is a great stressor. My mother makes her pizza dough “by feel”. Guess what I have never been able to make…my Mom’s pizza dough.

This recipe, as most great recipes are, was born out of a huge fail. The meat wasn’t crumbled properly during the browning process. When the sauce had finished cooking, it had almost a “chunky chili” consistency. Chris was devastated and panicked. He was to serve this sauce to his family the next day to show them he was so close to resurrecting his grandmothers sauce. It was 10 PM and we were both tired. There was no time to make another batch of sauce. I told him I’d take care of it the next day. I would figure out something to serve.

The following day, I pulled the chunky sauce out of the fridge, removed the sausages, and gave it a little whirl in the food processor. Problem solved.

I think allowing it to sit overnight lets the flavors have time to marry together. Or if gives me a break from the 3 1/2 hours is takes to make the sauce. Whatever. It just works.

This recipe was discussed in detail on an episode of my podcast More Than A Mouthful. Click here for the episode

Problem Solved Bolognese Sauce


1.5 lbs of ground beef

4 sweet Italian sausages

4 - 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes

2 T of tomato paste

2 cups of onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 T dried oregano

2 T brown sugar

1/4 cup olive oil


Heat oven to 350 degrees

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil. Add ground beef and cook until browned.

Drain fat.

Return to heat. Add onion, tomato paste, garlic, oregano and brown sugar. Drain whole tomatoes and reserve the juice. Using your hands, crush tomatoes and add to meat mixture. Stir to combine. Set heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

In a dutch oven or similar oven safe vessel with a lid, add sausages and reserved canned tomato juices. If juices don’t cover the sausages, add a bit of water. Place in oven and cook for 1 hour or until cooked through.

When sauce has completed simmering for 3 hours, remove from heat. Add sausages. Cover and cool for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove sauce from refrigerator. Remove sausages from sauce and set aside. Place sauce in a food processor (you may have to do more than one batch). Pulse GENTLY until all meat and tomatoes are a consistent size. Be very careful you don’t over pulse or the sauce will be a meat puree.

Place sauce in a large stock pot. Add sausages (you may add them whole or dice them). Slowly heat to serve.

This is fabulous over pasta or in a lasagna. Freezes beautifully