Beef Bolognese

Beef bolognese over pasta in bowls with parmesan cheese on top

It’s summer and it’s hot out but sometimes you just need a bowl of pasta with a rich and meaty sauce. That time is today! I forgot to include the garlic bread and salad in this picture but you get – big, fat Italian meal= happy. Speaking of this picture – does it not look way more pro than my usual pics? That’s because our friend Tony Politi shot this with a real fancy pants camera. Oh, and he also has camera knowledge and skills… Sigh. Still working on that part over here.

Back to food. I should clarify, this Beef Bolognese recipe is more than just a rich and meaty sauce. It’s full of invisible veggies (thanks to your food processor)! And wine! Yup, there are carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms all over this sauce, which make it super earthy and lush. The beef gets browned (really browned) to create all the good flavor crusties, and the wine gets reduced which adds a lovely sweetness to the dish. The inspo for this recipe came from Anne Burrell’s bolognese recipe ; she preaches the importance of browning everything, even the veggies, really well and she’s sooooo right.

Quick word of warning: this isn’t a recipe you want to start when you walk in the door from work and want to get dinner on the table in an hour. This is the recipe you want on that long Sunday, when you don’t change out of your PJ’s, and your husband agrees to put on shows that you are ok with watching from the kitchen (for example, that survivalist show Alone, where there’s not a ton of activity. For sure not Real Housewives, which requires undivided attention.)


Beef Bolognese

Beef bolognese over pasta in bowls with parmesan cheese on top

A rich, meaty sauce full of invisible veggies over pasta. Comfort in a bowl!

  • Author: Megan
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 4-5 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 1 lb ground beef (I get the 85/15 meat-to-fat ratio)
  • 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms or whatever kind you like
  • 2 small carrots or 1 big one
  • 1 rib of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 C red wine
  • 8 oz. tomato paste
  • 23 C chicken stock
  • 1/2 lb. spaghetti
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan for serving


  1. Roughly chop the mushrooms, add them to the bowl of your food processor, and pulse until they are very finely minced. Remove them from the processor bowl and set them aside (*no need to rinse out the processor bowl yet).
  2. Chop the carrots, celery, and onions in a large dice and mince the garlic, then add all to the now-empty bowl of the food processor.
  3. Pulse the veggies until they are very finely minced – like until you have a homogeneous mixture but not completely pureed.
  4. Heat 2 TBS of the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering and add the mushrooms, spreading them evenly in the pan. Let them cook undisturbed for a few minutes – they’ll absorb the oil and then begin to release their own moisture. Then stir to continue browning all over. Once browned, add a pinch of salt.
  5. Add 1 TBS of oil to the pot with the mushrooms and add the remaining veggies from the food processor. Season with a big pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.
  6. Cook the veggies, stirring occasionally, until they are very brown. It’s ok if they stick to the bottom and begin to get crusty. This takes some time.
  7. Once the veggies are brown, add the remaining TBS of oil and the beef. Break the beef up with a wooden spoon to spread it evenly across the bottom of the pot and season it with a big pinch of salt or two, and a pinch of pepper.
  8. Let the beef sit undisturbed for 3-4 minutes then stir and redistribute it around the pan and let it sit for 3-4 minutes again. Repeat this until the beef is very well browned. Again, it’s ok if it begins to get crusty -that’s building the flavor:)
  9. Once the beef is browned, add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to coat the beef and veggies. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomato paste darkens in color.
  10.  Stir in the red wine and bring it to boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow the wine to simmer and reduce for about 4 minutes.
  11. Stir in 1 Cup of the chicken stock, increase the heat and bring it up to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer.
  12. As the chicken stock reduces and you no longer see liquid pooling in the pot when you stir, add another cup of chicken stock, simmer and reduce.
  13. Repeat with the remaining cup of chicken stock. This process may take 1-1 1/2 hours. The flavor is worth it!
  14. As you reach the end of your simmering time, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season it heavily with salt.
  15. Add the spaghetti and cook 1 minute less than the package directions.
  16. Once the spaghetti is done, reserve 1/2 a cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the spaghetti and add it to your pot of bolognese. Stir to combine.
  17. If the sauce seems too dry to you, add some or all of the reserved pasta water.
  18. Divide the pasta and beautiful bolognese sauce among bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

Enjoy your well-earned meal:)!


*During the process of adding the chicken stock and reducing it, keep tasting your bolognese – make sure you have enough salt. There’s a lot of stuff going on there and this dish can handle a lot of salt.

Keywords: beef bolognese recipe

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