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Mama Mia, That’s A Meaty Bolognese!

There’s just nothing like a homemade pasta sauce to make a meal seem like a big, happy family dinner, is there?  Chef Sandy made her famous Bolognese sauce served with penne pasta at Tuesday Lunch this week. She’s sharing her recipe with you here on the blog, but if you’d really just like to buy the Bolognese meat sauce already prepared and ready to serve, you can buy it by the quart in our Dinners on Demand freezers.

Penne BologneseBolognese alla Penne


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 2 cups tomato paste
  • 3 cups hearty red wine
  • Water, as needed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
  • 1 pound penne pasta, uncooked (or most any pasta you want…)
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • High quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing


In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. In a large pan over medium heat, coat pan with oil. Add the pureed veggies and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they become nice and brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the ground chuck and season again generously with salt. Cook another 15 to 20 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.

Add water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine everything. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Don’t be shy about adding water during the cooking process, you can always cook it out. This is a game of reduce and add more water. If you try to add all the water in the beginning you will have boiled meat sauce rather than a rich, thick meaty sauce. Stir and taste frequently. Season with salt, if needed. (You probably will). Simmer for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat to cook the penne. Pasta water should ALWAYS be well salted. Water should taste like the ocean. When the water is at a rolling boil add the penne and cook for 1 minute less than it calls for on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking remove 1/2 of the sauce from the pot and reserve.

Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the remaining sauce. Stir or toss the pasta to coat with the sauce. Add some of the reserved sauce, if needed, to make it about an even ratio between pasta and sauce. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and cook the pasta and sauce together over a medium heat until the water has reduced. Give a big sprinkle of parmigiano-reggiano and a generous drizzle of the high quality finishing olive oil.



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