«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce

Dear ladies and gentlemen … if a 30-minute ONE-POT or ONE-PAN PASTA dish is your «thing», then please move along, this particular recipe isn’t for you ! I realize how frightening it seems, for the time it involves as well as the enormous quantities and varieties of meats used. This much meat and sacrifice desserve  the utmost respect and should be cherished and its preparation should not rushed. Even if you decide not to attempt this, at least pay your respects and tip your hats to all the italian mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers who have patiently, lovingly and attentively prepared this traditional dish for their offspring and their offsprings’ offspring ! An authentic «bolognese stew» sauce requires time and thought and elbow grease. The recipe’s ingredients aren’t engraved in stone but the effort required to achieve it is ! … 6 HOURS for a SAUCE ? YES, in order to enjoy this and to appreciate it and to feel no regret, which is why making a large quantity is preferable because it already takes so much time anyhow ! The recipe is both large and long to prepare, but you’ll end up with at least 12-18 servings of this meat sauce (straight-up or thinned with extra tomato) with pasta or anything else you may deem appropriate. Please note, this is a « meaty » meat sauce with tomato and not a tomato sauce with meat. The sauce is so dense and meaty that you may want to add more crushed tomatoes to it, before heating it up, to lighten and brighten the deep flavours. … Interestingly enough, the night before beginning and experimenting with this recipe, I had been invited for an italian  dinner in Paris with friends from France, Morocco, Israel, Italy and Sweden, who all happened to have lived in Italy for many years. Needless to say, they all had their versions or were familiar with their parents’ and grandparents’ or friends’ parents’ and grandparents’ versions of a bolognese ragu sauce. Some were prepared with milk and cream and butter for the caramelizing of the meat, some without, some using 3–5 types of meats (if you must, omit the chicken livers that I personally love and feel make the flavors more complex, add ground lamb if you can), some prepared on the stovetop and some in the oven too. Growing up in Montreal, I had many Italian friends and knew their families. It was obviously necessary to get on the phone and discuss with my italian friends’ parents in order to listen to their recommendations as well as to search the internet to double-check and understand some details about preparing this sauce, according to the younger generation of bloggers (thank-you to Mandy Lee from Lady&Pups - aka « the sorceress » and J. Kenji Lòpez-Alt from Serious Eats - aka « the scientist », for their undying devotion to cooking and clearly explaining why things are sometimes done in a certain way !) My version is a combination of many influences, recommendations, research, advice and of course instinct … 6-hours is long but if you do the math, it works out to 20-30 minutes per serving … So please tell me again, WHERE’S THE PROBLEM ?! LOL ... :)

«ragù alla bolognese» or the 6-hour meat sauce


12-18 portions or 3 kg or 12 cups


  • 800 grams ground beef (15 % fat)
  • 500 grams ground pork
  • 300 grams chicken livers (or replace partly or in full with ground lamb)
  • 300 grams pork-beef sausages (50% pork+50% beef)
  • 200 grams thick-cut bacon
  • 375 grams beef bone with marrow (bone weight 275 grams and beef marrow weight 100 grams)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (10 grams) or 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 beef bouillon cube (10 grams) or 1 cup beef stock
  • 500 ml water (2 cups) *if using the bouillon cubes
  • 3-4 anchovy filets
  • 240 grams chopped onions (1 ½ cups)
  • 160 grams chopped celery (1 cup)
  • 160 grams chopped carrots (1 cup)
  • 160 grams chopped mushrooms (1 cup)
  • 50 grams chopped garlic (3-4 tbsp)
  • 60 grams butter (¼ cup)
  • 50 grams olive oil (¼ cup)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 3-4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • ½-1  tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • ½-1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 40-50 grams parmesan cheese rind (7x7cm) or ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 240 ml red wine (1 cup)
  • 70 grams tomato paste (1/3 cup)
  • 1,6 kg pureed crushed tomatoes (4 cans or 6 ½  cups)
  • 440 ml evaporated milk (1 ¾  cups)
  • sea salt  (2 tbsp + more to your taste)
  • ground black pepper (2 tsp + more to your taste)


  • finely chop the vegetables (celery, onions, carrots) by hand or in a food-processor, crush the garlic and chop your fresh herbs and set everything aside
  • using an immersion blender, slightly purée your canned crushed tomatoes (if too chunky) and set aside
  • slice your thick-cut bacon into small slivers, rinse your chicken livers in cold water with some white wine vinegar, drain then purée your livers in a food-processor, remove the casings from the sausages and set all aside
  • in a large pan at medium-high heat, add 2 tbsp of butter and start cooking the bacon until slightly browned and add the chopped anchovies and then the onions and garlic, cooking until transclucent, add 2 more tbsp butter then add the bay leaves, carrots and celery and at the end the mushrooms, until all are softened and cooked but not browned and add half of the fresh chopped herbs (about 10-15 minutes)
  • in a small casserole, heat 2 cups of water (or stock) with the beef bones and marrow and boil until the marrow is soft, then remove the bones, scoop out the marrow and mash it then mix it back into the hot water with 2 bouillon cubes (if not using stock) and whisk until well incorporated and set aside (the gelatin in the marrow helps develop the texture of the sauce)
  • in a large dutch-oven or cast-iron casserole, at med-high heat on the stovetop, heat the ¼ cup olive oil and start browning the ground meats (beef, pork, sausage meat) with 1 tbsp sea salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper, while stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon
  • after 15 minutes and when the meats have nicely browned, add the pureed chicken livers and stir in and cook until the mix seem drier, then add the cooked vegetables and sliced bacon and fat  and cook for another 5-10 minutes
  • pour in the chicken-beef-marrow stock and add the parmesan rind and let simmer and reduce for 30-45 minutes at medium-high heat until drier, stirring occasionally and add 1 tbsp salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper (or to your taste, adjust it later too)
  • add the red wine and cook a few minutes until evaporated and the mixture is drier
  • add 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk and mix well and let cook without stirring for 8-10 minutes and then stir and scrape the brownings with a wooden spoon and repeat 2-3 times by adding another ½ cup of evaporated milk, mixing, letting it cook without stirring again for 10 minutes, then stirring and scraping, then ½ cup again, then the last ¼ cup …

note : this is for caramelizing the meat, you let it cook without stirring just long enough that when you finally start stirring and scraping the brownings, there’s a sizzling sound and when that sound stops, then you add more of the milk, mix, wait and repeat ...

  • taste and add sea salt and ground black pepper (if necessary) and the rest of the fresh chopped herbs
  • preheat your oven to 150°C
  • lower the stovetop to medium heat and add the tomato paste to the dutch-oven casserole and stir and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the slightly pureed crushed tomatoes and stir again and remove from heat
  • place in the oven (without a lid) on the middle or lower rack and bake for 2 ½ - 3 hours, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides well with a wooden spoon every 25-30 minutes.

note : the meat sauce will darken and reduce and be more condensed as it slowly bakes in the oven, and a layer of fat will develop on the top, keep mixing it back in everytime you stir and scrape

  • remove from oven when ready (you decide how thick and dense you prefer it), remove remaining parmesan rind and bay leaves) and either serve part of it immediately and store the rest or reserve for later
  • to prepare a dish, combine 1 cup of meat sauce per serving of 125 grams (dry weight before boiling in salted water) of flat pasta such as spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle or what I used which is called « trine », resembling thin long lasagna-like strands) per serving with extra grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley

note : when reheating the meat sauce which is very dense, feel free to combine 1/3-1/2 cup of canned crushed tomatoes per 1 cup of meat sauce, to loosen it up and brighten up the flavour (sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t !)

  • store portions in sterlized glass jars in the refrigerator for 1 week or freeze in air-tight containers or freezer bags fro several months.