My Bolognese

I’m finally doing it. I’m jumping into the Great Bolognese Debate.

Hold on, let me give a little context here. The Great Bolognese Debate is basically an ongoing debate, well more like just arguing at this point, about the One True Way to make bolognese sauce, a meat-based sauce from Bologna, Italy. Comment sections of cooking videos on Facebook are riddle with it, and sometimes I like to skim through them to see who has what to complain about now.

How dare you use olive oil in this dish!

Where is the olive oil? Isn’t this an Italian dish? Why would you use butter!

You only use the fat from the meats, you heathens! 

Tomato paste and no sauce? 

Ewwww, who puts milk in it???

Red wine.

No, white wine.

Red wine!

White wine!!!


Paste or no paste? Sauce or no sauce? Crushed tomatoes or none? White or red wine? So many questions with many different answers

I think you get the idea. Honestly, there is no point arguing in the comments section of a 45 second Tasty or Delish video about how wrong it or another person’s recipe is. I do find it funny that the people who complain the most about the recipe being totally wrong offer little to no explanation why and no alternative recipe. I do appreciate the people who leave comments saying that every nonna, Nanny, or Great Grandma in Bologna has their own recipe that is the claimed One True Way and passed it down for generations.

This bolognese recipe is what came of experimenting with a couple different recipes and ingredients since March. I’ve made it three times, all different ways, and then took my favorite aspect of each and combined it into my perfect sauce. I used a combination of the “official” ragù alla bolognese recipe from the Accademia Italiana della Cucina website (that one semester of Italian my freshman year paid off, I didn’t even have to translate the whole page), a Pinterest recipe, and another traditional recipe online. I prefer using the white wine instead of red wine, I do put milk in mine, and I only use the fats of the meats I’m cooking with, so no oil or butter. As much as I would love to use pancetta in mine, it isn’t the smartest purchase on a college budget, so I make mine with bacon. I’m sure my Italian ancestors (haven’t you noticed my last name is Russo?) are rolling in their graves, but hey, a girl has to make smart choices. Maybe my graduation present to myself will be buying some pancetta and making this sauce properly.

The bottom line for me is if the recipe sticks to the general roots of the tradition and it’s something you like and makes you happy, that’s all that matters. Isn’t that the point of recipes? I love the idea of every family having their own version that changes over the generations.

So here is my contribution, and why I simply called it My Bolognese.



My Bolognese

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: ~2 hours
Total Time: ~2 hours and 30 minutes


1 pound of ground beef
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
1 and 1/2 cups of mirepoix
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup (3 oz) tomato paste
1  can (6 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup milk
1 (16 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and Pepper, to taste


  1. In a large pot, brown the ground beef with salt and pepper. Drain the fat and set aside.
  2. Do the same with the pancetta or bacon until it’s crisp. Drain most of the fat, leaving some for cooking, and set aside.
  3. Add the mirepoix and cook until soft, about 8 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the milk and tomatoes, stirring until combined.
  8. Add in the meats and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Bring to a simmer then partially cover and reduce to medium-low heat. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 hours.
  10. Serve over your favorite pasta, some fresh bread, or toast. Remember, it is how you want to enjoy it!

Side Note: I’m using a gas stove, so it cooks a bit faster and hotter than usual. Keep an eye on your food when cooking and adjust the cooking times and heats for your stove.



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Cheers,  Josie


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