Jan 7, 2013

Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce

The Filipinos have their own version of Pasta sauce. Sweet and spicy meat sauce using tomato sauce or ketchup and some chopped hotdogs thrown in - think Jollibee Spaghetti. It may sound weird to some but Filipinos love it. I do like it, too to be honest. It is flavorful after all. I grew  up with this since this was often our snack for recess during our elementary years. I say this for a fact since  my mom was the Home Economics teacher who help managed the canteen in the public school I attended. I was content with this version of meat sauce (Filipino style for sure!) until I tasted the real thing - I am saying the real Italian Bolognese. You see, a few years ago my husband and I were walking down our street and then we chanced upon a Garage Sale and saw this lovely book "The Ultimate Italian Cookbook" by Carla Capalbo being sold for a whopping $2. I thought then  that it was expensive for a garage sale but the book looked like new and I loved the pictures [hahaha :-)]  so I said, why not? Now it has become one of my priceless treasures and am sure glad it was a $2 well-spent!

One of the many recipes in this book was this beautiful Bolognese Sauce. I was very intimidated at first because it recommended nearly 2 hours of cooking and then some red wine. I haven't really cooked with wine yet at this point (nearly 10 years ago....) and I wasn't sure if I could do this. Oh well, I am one to try a recipe at least once and then see how it goes.

I have never turned my back on this Bolognese Sauce Recipe ever since! Yes, it does take a long time to reach that perfect flavor - but that's a small sacrifice to make to achieve the most wonderful meat sauce that I have ever tasted. I have shared this recipe with a few friends, they've made this and came back to me with a big thank you! They loved it. I served this to some of our guests who came to our house for a visit and to no surprise - they have loved it, too. Now, thanks to this bolognese sauce, I love cooking with wine. I don't drink alcohol but I sure love to cook with it. Makes a huge difference in taste - so from stews, to pasta sauces or even Asian dishes I sure love wine in them!

Try this bolognese sauce - it may take a little effort than a stir-fry and some waiting time - but trust me - a dish this good is worth all the time and effort in the world! Enjoy!


2 Tablespoons Olive oil
2 Tbsp Butter
4 garlic cloves, crushed  or finely minced (I do whatever strikes my fancy when I make this)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 pancetta (Italian bacon) or regular streaky bacon strips, finely chopped or cut (I use kitchen scissors to cut them and if you don’t like the fat you may trim them out, which I usually do too when I use regular bacon)
1 medium carrot (or about 8-10 pcs baby carrots), finely chopped
1-2 celery sticks, finely sliced
1 lb / ½ a kilo ground beef
¾ cup red wine (white is fine but I prefer the stronger taste of red)
½ cup milk
3 roma tomatoes, diced or 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon each –  dried thyme and oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb spaghetti or any favorite pasta cooked al dente.
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish (optional)


Heat the olive oil and butter in a deep saucepan. When the butter has melted, sauté the onions and garlic just until aromatic, about a minute.

Add the chopped bacon and cook until it begins to render its fat between 3-5 mins.

Stir in the veggies (carrots and celery) and cook for a further 3-4 mins. Add the ground beef and crumble with a fork to separate. Cook until it is no longer red. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour in the red wine. Raise the heat slightly and cook until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the milk and continue to cook until it evaporates, too.

Stir in the tomatoes with their juice (if using canned) and the herbs including the Bay Leaf. Bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer uncovered on the lowest setting, stirring occasionally, for at least an hour (pref. 1 ½ hours). Don't worry, it's meant to be a little drier than other pasta sauces. In the end, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, to correct the seasoning, if necessary.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley (if desired). Serve with parmesan cheese on the side. This recipe is indispensable for lasagna or for Baked Bolognese. Enjoy!

If you wish to print the recipe, there's a print-friendly icon at the end of the post. Click on the "remove images box" for easy printing.

This recipe was adapted from "The Ultimate Italian Cookbook" by Carla Capalbo.

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  1. Hi,

    Each region in Italy makes their bolognaise slightly differently. My husband is from the Liguria Region and we dont add pancetta or milk to our 'ragu'. Im not a drinker either... but since making mom in laws bolognaise with the wine... I dont make it any other way. Im def. going to try out this version though. :)

    1. Do try it. I love this particular recipe and hope you enjoy it too. Thanks for stopping by.


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