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How to Make an Authentic Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese sauce has sort of become the generic name for a meat and tomato sauce in North America. Tasting it in Italy reveals a surprisingly different experience: my first encounter with an authentic Bolognese sauce was in Modena, Italy. I was wandering about that friendly university town and was attracted by a cute caffè to grab a bite for lunch. The decor was all-white contemporary, music was loungy, comfortable couches littered the back of the restaurant and the place was filled with students hanging out or working on their computers. The owner spoke French (he lived for many years in France), so he translated his very short daily menu (scribbled on a small piece of paper that waiters were carrying around). When he learned I’d arrived in the region just the day before, he warmly recommended that I have his Spaghetti Bolognese, the sauce made daily with fresh ingredients–nothing frozen in there, of course. He was proud that his sauce what the first true Bolognese sauce I would have–and the experience was indeed unforgettable. The taste was meaty but surprisingly delicate, aromatic, creamy and subtle. I’ve never tasted a pasta dish that married so well with plenty of freshly-grated parmigiano-reggiano.

The beautiful city of Modena in Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

My very first authentic spaghetti bolognese in a modern Modena caffè.

Of course, there is no single recipe of authentic Bolognese Sauce, but the basic ingredients must be the same. It’s a serious thing too: in 1982, the Academia Italiana della Cucina officially registered the recipe with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce. The classic recipe must contain: onions, celery, carrots, pancetta, ground beef, tomatoes, milk and white wine.

Ingredient notes:

  • Onion, celery, carrots: Now is the time to use your knife skills. Dice everything evenly in small ¼-inch dices. The size uniformity of these ingredients will allow them to cook evenly and will produce a more enjoyable texture. By the way, this combination of ingredients, cooked in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, is called a soffritto and is the base of many Italian dishes.
  • Tomatoes are not a main ingredient in the sauce – you add a bit of it for taste but it is a meat sauce, first and foremost.
  • Meats: Use lean ground meat (for a special treat, ask your butcher to chop the meats coarsely – 1/3 inch thick) and best-quality pancetta.
  • Milk: Yes, milk is the surprise ingredient responsible for producing a more orange than red sauce (it also makes the meat more tender). Do not use cream.
  • Broth: Although the registered 1982 recipe doesn’t include broth, most recipes I’ve encountered include some instead of water. It makes more sense to me taste-wise to choose beef over chicken broth.
  • Seasoning: This recipe (perhaps surprisingly) does not contain any aromatic herbs or spices. It is frowned upon to add bay leaves or red pepper flakes. The only flavoring in this recipe is sea salt and black pepper. It is highly recommended to use sea or kosher salt as it lends a more refined taste than regular table salt.
  • Pasta: This is a hearty sauce that should be eaten on pasta that can support its weight: it is often served with the wide and flat tagliatelle (fresh or dry).
  • Cheese: Please – please use only freshly grated authentic parmigiano-reggiano. It makes all the difference in the world.
  • Method: Finally, note that this sauce doesn’t like to be rushed. Some recipes with offer shortcuts but the only way to allow the flavors to develop fully and the sauce to become so rich is a very long simmering – and I mean, 4 hours long. The base of the recipe isn’t complicated or time-consuming to make and the rest is just passive time in the kitchen. You start a bit batch, stir in once in a while and enjoy for many meals to come.

Fresh pappardelle pasta.

My version of a delicious and authentic bolognese ragù (bolognese sauce).

Pappardelle Alla Bolognese.

Makes about 8 servings.

Ragù Bolognese (Authentic Bolognese Sauce)

15 minPrep Time

4 hr, 30 Cook Time

4 hr, 45 Total Time

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INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp [30 ml] olive oil
¼ cup [60 ml] butter
1 large yellow onion, finely and evenly diced
4 small (or 2 very large) carrots finely diced
4 stalks celery heart (or 2 large celery stalks) finely diced
4 garlic cloves, very finely diced
4.5 oz [125 g] diced pancetta (¼-inch cubes)
Freshly ground black pepper
2.2 lb [1 kg] lean ground meat (blend of veal, pork and beef – or just beef)
1 cup [250 ml] dry white wine (like a Chardonnay)
2 cups [500 ml] milk
1 28-oz [828 ml] can whole San Marzano tomatoes, diced (both the liquid and the tomatoes)
1 cup [250 ml] beef stock
To serve
A few knobs of butter
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
Fresh or dry tagliatelle, pappardelle, spaghetti, rigatonifarfalle or even gnocchi, cooked in salted boiling water according to the manufacturer’s instructions

METHOD

Heat the butter and the oil together in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted and the saucepan is hot, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and a good pinch of salt (about ½ tsp [2.5 ml]) and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the diced pancetta and cook for a further 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and pancetta is golden.

Finely dice the onion, carrot and celery to make a basic soffritto - and to end up with a better sauce texture too.

Increase the heat to high and add the meat a third at a time, stirring and breaking lumps with a spoon between each addition. Adding the meat gradually allows its liquid to evaporate – which is key if you want to brown your meat and not boil it. After the last addition, when no pink can be spotted in the meat and no lumps remain, set a timer to 15 minutes. You want your meat to caramelize and even become crispy in spots. More liquids will evaporate and flavors will concentrate. You want golden bits of meat to stick to the bottom of your pan, which will be deglazed later. Watch over your pan as you don’t want the meat to burn. When you see some serious caramelization action happening, lower heat to medium to reach the end of the 15-minute sautéing time (on my stove, that’s after 8-9 minutes).

Left: sauteed vegetables and pancetta; Right: caramelized bottom of pan before deglazing with white wine.

Over medium heat, pour the white wine into the sauce pan. With a wooden spoon, scrape all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Push the meat all around to make sure you scrape it all off. By the time you’re finished, the wine will be evaporated (2-3 minutes). Be careful not to let the meat stick again (lower the heat if necessary).

Add milk, diced tomatoes and their liquid, beef stock, 1 tsp [5 ml] salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower to the lowest heat and let simmer very slowly, half-covered, for 4 hours. Stir once in a while. If your sauce starts sticking before the end of your cooking time, lower the heat (if possible) and/or add a bit of stock or water. In the end, the sauce should be thick, more oil- than water-based and thick like oatmeal. Adjust the seasoning one last time – don’t be afraid of adding more salt (tasting each time you add some), it is this recipe’s key seasoning.

Simmer the bolognese sauce very slowly, half-covered, for 4 hours on the lowest heat possible.

To serve: Reheat the sauce. Mix in a knob or two of butter and about two generous tablespoons [30 ml] of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano per serving – these last additions will produce an incredibly creamy flavor. Cook the pasta, drain it thoroughly and return to the pot. Spoon some sauce, just enough to coat the pasta. Serve in bowls with a few leaves of basil sprinkled on top and more freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, to taste.

http://foodnouveau.com/recipes/how-tos/how-to-make-an-authentic-bolognese-sauce/

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375 Responses to How to Make an Authentic Bolognese Sauce

  1. This recipe is wonderful! Thank you for sharing! I was on the hunt for an authentic bologonase recipe after I returned from two weeks in Italy. I’m making it for my freezer meal club and was wondering if you think it would be OK to double or triple the recipe if I have a large pan?

    Thanks!!!

  2. Back in the early 90’s, I lived in Wales and my neighbors were crazy about Bolognese sauce. They made it with a Schwartz’s seasoning pack and minced beef w/chopped carrots…not bad tasting. But never ate it again…until this recipe…WOW!!! So good and worth the fine mincing and long cooking. Thanks so much for the great instructions…Compared to what I first tasted, this recipe is 1st class.

  3. Hey Marie,
    This is the first ever dish I’ve made from scratch and I love it! This recipe is to die for! I’ve made it three times, once for my boyfriend and his friends and they all loved it. It’s now my go to dish if I’m looking to impress or cooking for family.
    So glad you posted this, thank you!

  4. Marie,

    This sauce is incredible (googled authentic Bolognese Sauce following a TV episode of Great Railway Journeys). I have made it a couple of times now and everyone loves it. Your instructions, especially about browning/caramelizing the meat all with accompanying pictures, were superb.

    Thank you so much
    Thea

  5. This sauce is incredible! I’ve made this several times (following the recipe to a T), and it’s worth the effort. Thank you for such a great recipe.

  6. I went to Bologna with my partner a couple of years ago and had the most amazing Bolognese at this little hole in the wall… I wanted to learn how to replicate it and I think your recipe is the closest I have tasted… It is delicious…so thank you!

  7. Marie:

    I have used this recipe exactly as written about a half dozen times since finding it about 18 months ago. I have traveled extensively in the North of Italy and in particular the Bologna, Parma and Modena area.

    This recipe is as close as you can come.

    Whenever I make it with a hearty home made pasta garnished with real Parmagiano Reggiano, people literally gasp followed by the obligatory OMGs!

    Fantastico!

    Jeff Theis

  8. I followed this recipe around 2/3 years ago and memorised it. I have never ever made bolognese any other way since, it is unbelievably magnificent! Tonight however, after not making this dish for quite a while, my memory went blank…when do I add the meat? What veges again? So I googled Authentic Bolognese Sauce and thankfully found your recipe again. I found other recipes but they don’t have the caramelisation of the beef. Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s a forevermore staple in our weekly dinners!

  9. Why am I remembering a bolognse sauce containing several cuts of meat, steak,pot roast, meat balls,ribs, pork,braised then tomatoes added and cooked. Meat placed in dishes, pasta separate with gravy on top. What sm I think ink?.Thank You,

    • Florence, “bolognese sauce” is most often used as a general term referring to a meat and tomato pasta sauce, so I wouldn’t be surprised that you encountered a different variety before. The recipe I am sharing is based on the traditional sauce from Bologna.

  10. It is indeed a super sauce. First timer here (never made ragu bolognese ever before) and didn’t fail! Four thumbs up! (Borrowing my husband’s thumbs). ;)

  11. Made a half-sized batch yesterday to try it out. Couldn’t get pancetta locally, so I debated between substituting prosciutto or just some mild bacon. Ended up going with the bacon, because I had it in the house.

    Didn’t seem to hurt anything. The end result was amazing. Possibly the best pasta sauce I’ve ever had, and certainly the best I’ve ever made myself.

  12. We have made this recipe many times over, and each time we marvel at how good it really is. Please don’t change a thing! It’s such a wonderful sauce.

  13. Hi,

    nice to read about the original recipe. Its a whole world of a difference to make a bolognese in this way.

    However: i think you should make it more clear that the soffritto is NOT made together with the minced meat. Its flavor would never survive 20 minutes of meat roasting(if its possbile at all to roast it with so many vegetables). They are made in two separated pots/pans as clearly visible in your pictures. The roasted meat clearly contains no vegetables at all. The soffritto is added to the meat after the white whine has been added and cooked for a moment.

    Also: normally the soffritto takes a little bit longer than 10-15 minutes. Its more about 30 minutes. The Pancetta is also not getting brown or “golden”. Soffritto is basically about “cooking” the celery, carrots and onions in butter and not about roasting.

    You should also consider to replace the part “add a bit of stock or water” with “add a bit of milk”. This makes the sauce much smoother.

    Everything else in the recipe is just perfect. Especially the description about roasting the minced meat is very good and important.

      • This was an excellent comment, I plan to make this wonderful sounding recipe and cooking the vegi’s separate from the meat and then adding later would have been overlooked otherwise. Thank you!

  14. Hi Marie is it ok not to put wine coz we don’t take it either for drinking or cooking. What can I replace it with? Thanks!

    • Hello Ainie! Yes of course, you can omit wine. You need a liquid to deglaze the pan after caramelizing the meat and the veggies. I think beef or vegetable broth would both worth well, they would allow you to catch all those golden bit while adding some flavor. Try it out and report back to let me know if you liked the sauce!

      • Yes it was delicious! I omit the pancetta too coz I don’t eat pork. And being a very very novice cook I didn’t realise the meat is to be roasted separately from the soffrito lol. But all is well it still turned out good and there were second helpings taken ;D Thanks so much Marie!

  15. Just making another batch of your fantastic Bolognese Ragu – been cooking down slow for 12 hours now. I do it once every few months just to keep my “proficiency” up!! Follow your recipe to a TEE – only item I change is NO tomatoes at all and just a “dash” of Tomato Juice for “color” – truly THE Best recipe there IS!!! BRAVO once again!!!

  16. This is my favourite bolognese recipe! I’m actually going to be doubling the quantities and making 16 portions next time. Just wondering if when I double the amounts i will need to brown the meat in two batches? Just for sake of getting the caramelisation. What do you think?

    • Ideally, most of the meat and veggies must come into contact with the bottom of the pot for proper caramelization. So if you don’t have a huge pot, I’m afraid the meat would boil instead. I’d cook it in batches (or in two separate pots), when bring it all back together before the addition of the liquid ingredients.

  17. Absolutely delicious!!….used bacon instead of pancetta…..diced and lightly browned then added soffitto till it was tender. Followed directions exactly after that!!!…In my part of the world we eat more southern style. I wanted to try something completely different. So glad I did!! I did use half ground beef half ground pork.

  18. Ok so my have been making this gravy for a few years now and everyone I make it for loves it. I even use it to make lasagna and it’s amazing.

    I do have a question, I’m going to make this for a work thing. But I don’t have time to make it the day of. Any sugtions on the best way to make it a day before and how to reheat it/ bring it back to life?

    • It’s absolutely not a problem to make this sauce in advance, in fact, it’s better to do so! Storing the sauce for a day or two allows flavors to develop even more. Once your sauce is done, refrigerate it in an airtight container. When ready to serve, pour the sauce back in a saucepan and reheat over low heat. As it’s cold out of the fridge, the sauce will be stiff, but it’ll loosen up again when warm. It’s as simple as that!

      • You can add some of the pasta water to it after you have cooked the pasta. Put the sauce in the pasta pan add the pasta then add a little of the saved water a little at a time until you get the right consistency. Don’t forget, when you had the Parmigiano that it will thicken up some.

        • Hello Janis! I’ve never made the sauce in a slow cooker, but I often use it. A slow cooker needs to be covered to do a good job (otherwise it cannot reach the right heat). My worry would be that the sauce remains too watery by the end of the cooking process. My instinct would be to reduce liquids–perhaps you can try the recipe using 3/4 of the wine, milk, and stock. Of course, for the sake of flavor, you’ll still need saute the vegetables and caramelize the meat before transferring those ingredients to the slow cooker for the simmering period. You’ll have to test the slow cooker version of the sauce for us! If you do, please report back, I’ll be very interested to know how it went.

  19. Ciao sono Paolo,
    di seguito vi indico la mia ricetta del Ragù alla bolognese che usiamo da noi..

    Hello, I am Paul,
    I was born and I live Vignola small town between Modena and Bologna in Italy,
    The sauce here is prepared as follows:
    ingredients people
      1 golden onion, 1 carrot, 2 stalks celery, chopped very fine.
    Fry everything with 4/5 cucchiaii of extra virgin olive oil.
    Add 500 grams of ground beef and pork,
    Add a little ‘salt and sprinkle a glass of red wine, in modena we use the “Lambrusco”!
    for last 500 grams of tomato puree
    Cook for about 2 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally.
    Towards the end of cooking you can ‘add to taste a bit’ heavy cream and a bit of pepper
    Enjoy your meal

  20. I am from Serbia and our ,,Bolognese” is onion, mixed pork and beef and watery tomato juice, prepared in one hour or less :O just terrible, the only sauce from Serbia I can eat is my mum’s!
    Luckily, as a big fan of Italian cuisine and a daughter of a great cook, I’ve come across recipes with milk and wine. Adding milk sounded absoulutely bizzare at first, but today I tried anyway. For the first time I got rich, creamy oatmeal texture, after two hours of cooking :D
    Next time I’ll add pancetta, carrots and celery and cook even longer on a lower temperature. Also, tagliatelle advice was great, since I’ve noticed that meat keeps falling off my spaghetti, and so is advice to use butter (olive oil seemed more logical to a non-Italian) and let meat get brown (I was simmering from the beginning, not sautéeing for like 10 minutes). Thank you, I’ve bookmarked this post :)
    PS: it may not be authentic, but I’ve noticed that adding a bit of finely shredded walnuts 10 minutes before finishing bolognese adds AWESOME taste! You could try it sometime :)

  21. I’ve tried many, this is the best. There are ‘Bolognese-smiles’ table wide from all the family and kids.

  22. Sooo happy i found this recipe! Thank you so much! My friends, husband and i absolutely love this receipe…. I’m a BIG bolognaise fan and this is one of the best i have ever had/made

  23. A great recipe. I pureed and food processed the onion, celery, and carrots and then added it to cook with the pancetta. My favorite recipe by far. Thank you!

  24. Did you leave the cover off for most of the cooking? That will help. Don’t worry as after it’s in the fridge it will thicken up a bit. Also, the pasta will soak up some of it. I rarely have that problem.
    I agree with the others about the fat. Unless it seems like a lot of fat I would just mix it in.

  25. I am at the 3 1/2 hour mark and my sauce is a bit watery, which I think is grease and oil. I’m not sure what to do?
    Also, going to eat it tomorrow night for dinner and made it in my le creuset. How do I put in fridge? Wait for it to cool in the le creuset and then transfer to another bowl for storing in fridge?

    • If the sauce feels watery, keep on simmering it, it’ll eventually evaporate, concentrating the flavor of the sauce. As for the fat, it will coagulate on top of the sauce when you refrigerate it, so you can easily scoop it off before reheating the sauce if you want (I use extra lean meat so I leave all the fat in as it mainly comes from the added oil, butter and cheese). I usually let the sauce cool right in the pot and once it’s at room temperature, I divide it into portions and refrigerate. If you think you’ll serve the whole pot of sauce and have space in the fridge, by all means, just let it cool then store it as is, straight in your Creuset! You’ll save on dish washing time too :)

  26. After every bolognese Ive ever tasted I’ve though there must be one out there that blows me away & this is the one I’ve been looking for. Followed the recipe “exactly” using pork & veal mince (70% pork 30% veal). I made sure I followed the soffrotto & mince browning procedure & even though it takes a bit of time & work I believe its worth the effort. Ended up with a meat sauce that was meaty, creamy & full of flavour. The friends I had over asked for the recipe it impressed that much. Will be the only way I make bolognese from now on. Thank you for this fantastic recipe :)

  27. I made it 2 times now, the first time with the beef stock and the second time without. The beef stock added a weird taste to it even after 4 hours of simmer. Should i try another brand or add more whine maybe?

    The second time it was delicious!

  28. Have made your recipe at least 10 times – never change a THING! Altho I’m German/Norwegian I won the Italian Cookoff at my Condo against the other 17 Italian Owners!!! They never stop asking me HOW I did it SO authentically!!! Absolutely PERFECT recipe and description!! Many THANKS!!!

      • Hey Marie – it IS a Rave Review because it IS a Rave Recipe!! I cook it on and Induction Surface so I’m really able to control the simmering temp – and – with the cover half-off I simmer it for at least 12 Hours!!!! I really think that the Longer Simmering Process is THE Trick!!! Thanks again!!!! Larry

        • Yes, the long simmering process is indeed at the core of this sauce’s deliciousness! Thanks again for taking the time to leave a note, your enthusiasm is infectious :)

  29. Being an Italian food enthusiast, I absolutely love this recipe. It is the best tasting bolognese sauce recipe I have ever discovered – hands down! I have referred to it at least a dozen times. I always have a bottle of red on hand (to drink only, use a dry white for the sauce), some music in the background and I enjoy every single step of the way.

    Some advice…this step is the cornerstone in my opinion (quote):
    “Increase the heat to high and add the meat a third at a time, stirring and breaking lumps with a spoon between each addition. Adding the meat gradually allows its liquid to evaporate….You want your meat to caramelize and even become crispy in spots…You want golden bits of meat to stick to the bottom of your pan, which will be deglazed later. ”

    Re-read above if you didn’t get it the first time. Then after it is caramelized then deglaze with a dry white wine (dry white wine … not sweet).

    Make sure you reduce it right down until there is caramelization (see picture in the recipe above).

    For best results, cook it for eating the next day.

    • I know you might not like this but instead of using a dry white wine I opted for Sweet Marsala wine (I have made it with the dry also) and it turned out really, really good. I use this recipe for a base, a place to work from to make a good, solid Bolognese. You can add or not add what you personally like. Some people add Thyme, I don’t. I like to add fresh parsley because I like green colors. I Use Marsala and other use white. The key is the process in which you treat the meat, veggies, and simmer the sauce. If you follow the steps properly it’s hard to screw it up.

  30. Excellent recipe! I have made it four times now and always use grass fed ground beef and grain fed pork in equal amounts and I think it makes a difference as I don’t see Italy filled with mass produced beef and I know their pork tastes better due to the feed. Yours is one recipe I do not alter, it is so darn good.

  31. Hi, I just made this and it tastes delicious, but the end result was not with as much sauce as the pic you posted. Any sauce that was there was quite thin and not creamy, and it looks like way too much meat. I followed all the portions and measurements exactly. Any idea what might have gone wrong? Thanks heaps!

  32. This is the closest recipe to my great-grandma Nonna’s sauce. I think the secret is cooking the meat until it caramelizes. Thank you for that tip! It is my husband’s most favorite dinner, so I make it often and have never felt the need to make major alterations (sometimes I’ve used red wine instead of white if red was open, and I’ve tried a sprig of thyme on occasion). I’ve made this for company and everyone loves it. Thank you for sharing it!

  33. i loved this recipe. your right totally worth the time it takes and actually tasted better after sitting in the fridge and reheating with butter the next day. thank you for the excellent recipe and tutorial. Perfect fix for missing Italy after our week trip :)

  34. I love this sauce!! I used the San Marzano tomatoes and still added a pinch or two of brown sugar in the end. It’s hard to find these tomatoes here. Traveled about 2 hours away and found them in a very small Italian deli . Thank you for this recipe!!

    • I’m impressed that you traveled so far to find San Marzano tomatoes! They really do taste much better than regular canned tomatoes. If you can’t find San Marzano close to home, canned *italian* tomatoes will do. But you can also order San Marzano tomatoes online! You’ll find them on Amazon.com, for example.

  35. Is it essential to leAve it for 4 hours, I didn’t reAd all the way through before I went and brought the ingredients and made it! It’s not all done but my dinner will be ready at 11 haha can I get away with leaving it for maybe 2 and then finishing it off? Thanks :)

  36. This is a really delicious recipe. I am quite concerned by the lack of tomatoes in this dish; I’ve always made a tomato-based sauce and I was afraid my family would not like it. But lo and behold; they did! They did notice that there was no noticeable tomatoes here but they don’t mind; they were thrilled to try a new version of a pasta meat sauce. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  37. Just how much butter and parm reg do you add for serving? 1-2 knobs per serving would be 8-16 for the whole pot, and 16T cheese. Is that right?

    • You got the maths right! You can of course skip the addition of butter and additional cheese, but it does make a delicious difference. Bolognese is definitely a rich sauce and you should enjoy it for what it is. You can always eat salad tomorrow!

      • Oh, I don’t want to skip it. Believe me. I just didn’t want to add too much and spoil the recipe. I am making this for my Christmas dinner so I’ll be serving the whole recipe, actually a double recipe. The 2nd batch is cooking now. It was actually my husband’s idea to serve it for Christmas and I’m thrilled to have a make ahead meal. BTW, this is the most precise and helpful recipe I’ve ever come across. Plus it’s so delicious and just plain fun to cook.

  38. This is a wonderful recipe! I never follow recipes exactly, and as much as I wanted to be faithful, I forgot that I was out of San Marzano canned tomatoes. I substituted San Marzano brand tubed tomato paste for the tomatoes and upped the wine and milk by a quarter cup. I was trying to replicate a bolognese we just had in Florence and this, my husband declared, was better! Thank you! Your blog recipes are now my years goal!

  39. I have been looking for this recipe for years. I always remember my grandmother making this type of sauce for her ravioles. I always referred to her recipe as brown sauce, not red. thanks, dying to try it. Could she possibly put in dried mushrooms and used some of the broth from soaking?

  40. I followed your instructions to the letter and I am now prancing around the house singing “This is the best bolognese I have ever made!”
    (And I’ve made a lot in my time)

    Well done. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  41. Hello there,

    i don’t usually leave comments but after trying this recipe I’m speechless. WOW!! thats all i can think of after every bite. this must be the best recipe i’ve ever come across. thank you for sharing.

  42. This sauce sounds like a really good classic bolognese but I was wondering why there are no herbs added? Is it ok if I were to add 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1/2 tsp dried oregano to it? Would the addition of nutmeg affect the flavor? Thanks if u can reply ASAP as I plan to make this for a family gathering. Otherwise the recipe sounds wonderful and I’d much prefer white wine compared to red wine.

    • It’s explained right in the post:

      “Seasoning: This recipe (perhaps surprisingly) does not contain any aromatic herbs or spices. It is frowned upon to add bay leaves or red pepper flakes. The only flavoring in this recipe is sea salt and black pepper. It is highly recommended to use sea or kosher salt as it lends a more refined taste than regular table salt.”

      It’s your sauce; you can add what you want to it, but honestly it does not need it and if you do, it won’t be authentic anymore.

    • This isn’t correct.

      This recipe is perfect as is and honestly there’s no need to add nutmeg. I’ve made it already and will make it again, and in no way shape or form did I alter the recipe one bit. I know that many bolognese recipes may include nutmeg, but honestly, this recipe doesn’t need it. There’s no game-y-ness here and there’s a reason the author left this out.

  43. I’ve made this recipe probably 5 or 6 times now and absolutely love it! I have also doubled it and froze it in meal sized portion and it tastes just as amazing!

  44. Do you add meat to sauted vegetables, or cook the meet seperately? Will the vegetables not burn while caramelizing with meat?
    Thanks

    • I never tried to make the sauce in a crockpot. I’m not sure that it would work because the liquids need to evaporate, and a crockpot prevents that to happen. Maybe you could crack the lid open for a portion of the cooking time. If you ever try it, come back and let me know if the recipe worked!

  45. I’ve made this twice and both times, there was too much liquid after adding the meat for it to brown properly. And both times, the sauce tasted wonderful at the end, so I cannot imagine how good it would taste when this taste component was incorporated properly! I suspect i am adding too much onion/carrot/celery/garlic and that is why it is not dry enough – but who knows. I sneak some red pepper in, as well. Lovely recipe – my 2nd generation Italian friends give it a huge thumbs up – so they do not care if it is not “traditional’ nor do I. Thank you!

  46. The first time I’ve ever tried authentic italian sauce was when my italian roommates mom would drop by to visit and spend the whole day making her own sauce. Immediately I fell in love! My snobby roommate just would not share the recipe so after months of looking for a sauce similar to her mother’s I found it. Bolognese! Your ingredients is how I can somewhat remember her making it. Cannot wait to try it when I move into my new apartment at school next week! Thank you so much!!!

  47. We absolutely LOVE this recipe. After coming back from Bologna we had the holiday blues, and i’m so glad I found this recipe. This is my 7th time making it now. We have a portion every week, it freezes so well. :) Thank you for sharing..

  48. This recipe is amazing. After making it several times, I decided to put it to the ultimate challenge and make it for my 100% Italian father(who is a chef) and 100% Italian step-mother…both born and raised New Yorker’s and die hard foodies who have eaten in ALL the best Italian restaurants in NYC. While my dad was too proud to admit it full on, my step-mother declared this “the best bolognese she has ever had.” Which means…better then his:) Score! This is a huge compliment, to you and me, so thank you! BTW, I have found that the caramelizing technique here for the veggies and meat works great as a base for a shorter cooking, week-night “wing it” ragu with whatever I have on hand. Making one now! But for the real deal, when time and ingredients permit, your exact recipe is a sure fire way to impress. Awesome.

  49. Made this last night, definitely worth the patience! Recipe is a keeper, and any time I crave a nice hearty bolognese in the future, don’t doubt I’ll be using this recipe. Thanks!

  50. Hello, this is probably a stupid question, but can I make this in advance? How many days can I keep it in the fridge for? And can it be frozen?

    P.s. love this sauce!

    • You can and should make the sauce in advance! It gets even better the next day. You can keep it in the fridge for about three days, or freeze it in portions for a few months.

  51. I cannot praise this recipe enough. I have tried countless “authentic” bolognese recipes. This is absolutely second to none. Following each step and each ingredient as it is written without substitutes or additions truly is the key to the most delicious authentic bolognese you will ever put in your mouth. The longer you take to thoroughly follow each step the better it tastes. It’s not a fast dish to prepare by any means, but it is the fastest to be eaten bar none. Take your time and trust this recipe word for word. You will be extremely proud of the end result.

  52. Very nice, easy-to follow and very authentic formula! I can’t buy veal here in Japan, but I know that many folks from Bologna, etc, would notice the lack of chicken liver in this particular formulation, so I added it. My guests were jumping up and down with joy. Thank you for this delightful sauce recipe!

  53. I love this recipe. Making it for the second time for company. Is the secret to thickening the sauce adding tomato paste?
    Because I had trouble thickening the sauce the first time I made it. It was so great though!
    I’m serving a salad, do I need to serve a vegetable on the side of the pasta too?
    Would love feedback!
    Thank you!

    • The secret to a thick, rich sauce is to cook it for a very long time over low heat so the excess liquids slowly evaporate. If you’re patient enough, you won’t need tomato paste to make the sauce thicker.

      • Dear Marie

        Thank you for your detailed explanation. It gives me inspiration.

        I am from the Netherlands and I am practicing my bolognese “skills”. I watched a few youtube tutorials and I saw that they don’t just add the chopped tomato to the sauce, but prepare the tomato sauce first. They call it “sugo”, where they first vaporize some of the liquids of the tomatoes so the taste becomes more concentrate, before adding it to the sauce.

        Is there a reason why this is not in your recipe or is it “allowed” to do it either way?

        Thanks again and kind regards, Dennis

      • I am on my fourth batch of making this incredible sauce. I followed the directions to a tee each time. The last two times the sauce did not thicken as I would have liked even though it cooked slowly for 4-5 hours. It’s a little watery and oily. I’ve seen other recipes that don’t call for butter. Wondering if that is causing it. Any idea is welcome.

        • I scrolled through the comments when, after I had the sauce simmer for 4 hours and it was watery as well, saw that you had the same problem. (my husband kept saying it was a great soup…)
          I have an electric stove so I turned the heat up to a medium-low temperature and had the sauce simmer for another 1-2 hours and it reduced beautifully.
          As others have commented, the sauce is very yummy. Thank you!

  54. Hi,i never heard of garlic on the ragu bolognese….the old bolognese way of doing it is also adding some chicken liver to it..and no milk..

  55. I’ve made this many times, perfecting the perfect beef, pork, bacon…etc. thank you so much for the detailed recipe! We love it! I use organic beef and Italian sweet pork sausage and a natural bacon and it is so good. Better than any fine restaurant we’ve tried!

  56. It is simmering right now , looks and smells great. Only problem I had was browning the meats after sweating the vegetables. They did not want to brown, so I browned them separately.

    • I brown the soffrito first…that is the celery, onion and carrot mix…then I put in the ground meat.
      I find it I use a pastry cutter…that thing with the wires…it really helps to break up the meat. The browning does take awhile but you want the flavors of the soffrito mixed in with the meat.

  57. Thank You, this was an incredible meal. Rich and packed with flavor. I used 1# ea. BPV and I did add 2 T paste with 1 cup stock half way through. It was creamy and had all the flavors packed in to it.

  58. This recipe is something I cook about once every 2-3 weeks. I follow it it closely (with or without the odd change of ingredient if I have run out) and I simply adore the delicious flavours! Thank you for sharing a wonderful recipe, it has become a delicious pleasure of mine to indulge cooking and eating.

  59. This was by far the BEST bolognese recipe I ever laid my hands on. Everyone loved it and cleared their plates in a record time. Whilst I couldn’t simmer the sauce for the full 4 hours due to time constraints, it ended up delicious.

  60. My man hates tomato sauce so carbonara, pesto and alfredo have been it. I’ve made this twice, though, now and we both gobble it down! Tried both beef/pork and beef/veal and I prefer the pork. Steelar recipe! Thank you

  61. I have my first try simmering right now. My house smells so good! I will be serving this to friends this evening, it’s sure to be a hit.

  62. I always follow Marcella Hazen’s recipe. The only differences are…she says traditional Ragu’ never has garlic in it and she adds the milk first and lets it cook down, then she adds the wine and lets it cook down, then she adds the tomatoes. I plan to try your recipe but I would really like to know if the secret recipe in Bologna has garlic. My daughter has lived in Italy for 23 years and she makes it with garlic and without milk. It still tastes great. It is the fact that it is a meat sauce and not a tomato sauce that makes it great. I have only found one restaurant in America where it is close to the real Bolognese Ragu’. Now I am hungry for it!

  63. Simply amazing. I’ve lived all over the world, cooked all over the world, and simple is usually best. Please, make this AS IS once, then see what you’d like to add, or not. (After five or six tries, I just follow the recipe as written – maybe a little less salt.) Also, I made a wonderful old Italian nonna cry when she ate this today. I win the internet!

  64. I can not get pancetta, is there something else I can use or omit it? I recently visited Italy and had it with pappardelle I would love to have friends to experience it as well, the pappardelle was fresh, fantastic!

  65. Hi Marie and fellow commentators!

    If I am cooking and serving the sauce on the same day, do I add the butter and parmigiano just before serving?

    Or is the recommendation to cook it one day and serve a day or two later, then adding the butter and parmigiano?

    Many thanks!

  66. I love making bolegnese sauce, however my partner doesn’t like tomato based sauces. Everything I made was “too tomatoey” Gah!. Your recipe is simply divine and it is eaten with gusto. Such a wonderful recipe has been bookmarked and I’ve made this recipe multiple times! Thank you!

  67. I made this last night and it was absolutely wonderful. I rarely follow recipes, but in this case I did and it turned out great. I have never left a reply on a food website, but this was so good that I had to say thank you!

  68. I am preparing to make your delicious sounding Bolognese and am little confused. Could you clarify, please?
    If one adds the pancetta to the vegetables how will it be possible for the pancetta to become golden without burning the veg?
    Also, your method says to increase the heat and add the meat…. add the meat to the pan with the sautéed vegetables? The picture shows 2 separate pans. Does one add the meat to the veg or brown it separately. If so, when to combine the two?
    Thank you!!

    • Hello Alana, the vegetables can withstand a long cooking time, thanks to the additional fat released by the pancetta. They will not burn even as you brown the pancetta.
      Also, you need to use only one pan: you add the meat to the pan containing the sauteed veggies and pancetta. On the right side of the picture, the veggies are mixed into the browned meat.
      Good luck!

  69. I’m confused regarding the amount of parmigiana cheese to put into the recipe. You said two table spoons per serving? I know this sounds stupid, but since this recipie is for 8 servings, do you really mean 16 tablespoons
    Stirred in at the end. Sorry, but this vague, could you clarify?

    Thanks

    Bill

  70. Im just about to add my liquids and I looked at the clock and I only have 3 hrs to simmer will this do, my son has to leave for work and I really want him to eat some before he leaves.

    • This sauce is at least twice as good when reheated the following day properly according to the instructions. While you can eat it at almost any point after 3 hours of cooking (and I have), I consider it sacrilegious as this is perhaps one of the best sauces I have ever tasted.

  71. There is such an argument about this sauce! Can you use soy mil instead of regular? I almost got in an argument about this sauce today at the grocery! Crazy! I am making mine with buffalo meat … I hate factory farming! And turkey bacon with sweet red wine… I THINK… Not sure. And with whole grain linguini for health reasons. Lol, so funn!

  72. I’ve just got to tell you, this recipe (and your excellent instructions) made for a PHENOMENAL sauce.

    I am a Canadian, of Italian origin, presently on a short stay in Italy, and I cooked it here in Venice the other day. It is far superior to anything I’ve ever had at home or here in Italy. Who knew ground beef could take on a texture akin to silk? Wow.

  73. Hey there,

    Would chopping the vegetables up finer in the food processor and substituting tomato paste for the diced tomatoes alter the flavour much?

  74. I have been making Ragu Bolognese for over 40 years. I have used a number of different recipes using red wine, chicken stock, no pancetta, herbs and tomato puree, milk etc, etc. I have to say your recipe makes absolute sense to me in a way that so many before have failed. The long caramelising of the meat is essential, no herbs and milk ensure that it all comes together to make an absolutely fabulous ragu. Thank you for this, amazing.

  75. I have made this recipe many times now and it is always well received! When I have the time this is now my go to recipe for bolognese. I usually serve it with homemade ricotta gnocchi but I’m making it right now for lasagne. Thanks for sharing!

  76. For some reason every time I carmelize the meat, it starts burning really quickly, like 3 minutes after I set the timer. Any tips on this? I follow your recipe right every time, but I see myself waivering on the 15 minute meat cooking.

    • Alex, it could be a result of one or two factors: the pan you are using is not sufficient weight, that is to say it is too thin at the base, or your stove is hotter than it should be. Turn the heat down progressively until you find the sweet spot, and if the pan is too thin, invest in a heavy bottomed pan, it will pay dividends trust me.

    • While *Spaghetti* Bolognese may not be from Italy, this recipe is for Ragù alla Bolognese (served over tagliatelle, not spaghetti) which definitely is from Italy. From the looking at the third photo it is apparent that the dish the author had in Modena could more accurately be called “tagliatelle Bolognese” (it sure isn’t spaghetti). The sauce also is clearly a ragù, not a meaty tomato sauce like the rest of the world’s “Bolognese Sauce”.

      • I was referring to the comment: “My very first authentic spaghetti bolognese in a Modena caffè – love the idea of using a Chinese spoon for the grated cheese!”. Any Spaghetti Bolognese served up in Italy is purely for the tourists. I agree with your comment on the photo, however. That does look like Tagliatelle al ragù!

  77. […] Authentic Bolognese sauce: as above found this to get a more Italian authentic tasting Bolognese… same comments as the one above… oh the different types of pasta i use are: Spaghetti, rotinni, fettuccine, pappardelle, tagliatelle, spaghettini, fusilli, ziti, fettuccine, linguine, penne rigate and farfelle… It just depends on what kind of sauce I am making… […]

  78. I’ve made this more than a few times & my husband & I almost lick our plates clean! I was indeed surprised at the inclusion of milk but it all comes together so well. Fantastic recipe! Thanks so much! x

  79. Marie,

    The crucial step in your recipe, that until now I had never figured out on my own, is the 15 minute caramelization of the meat. It was a revelation. You nailed it! Congratulations.
    Thank you for this recipe.

    M

  80. I have a question for you…can I substitute beef/Chicken broth for water. And also can I make this sauce w/o using white wine.I so wanna try your recipe.

    • I ave seen other recipes that allow the option of not using stock. But instead of water, use the juices from the can of tomatoes.

      As for omitting wine, sure, one can always use water instead. It won’t taste as good but it won’t be awful by any means. I would ask why you seek to omit the wine? If alcohol s a problem, be aware that its all cooked off long before it gets to your plate.

  81. This sauce is amazing. I followed the recipe and cooking instructions faithfully and could not believe how delicious the sauce was at the end. So, so good, and I’ll definitely be making it again. Thanks for the recipe and for this wonderful website. Clearly labors of love!

  82. I am making this right now. It has been simmering for almost 3 hours. It looks done based on your descriptions and pictures. Would you recommend continuing to simmer for the last hour or should I serve it an hour early? I am so excited for dinner! My taste tests are amazing.

  83. I have a question regarding when to add the milk. My mother always added the milk after browning the meat (letting it mostly evaporate) and before adding wine. I was told the milk tenderized the meat and “protects” it from the acidity of the wine and tomatoes.

    Your thoughts?

  84. This is simply delicious. It freezes well and is just as delicious as when it was fresh. My husband raves about it every time I serve it. Well worth the effort!

  85. I tried your recipe recently. I’ve never liked bolognese and have only bought/made it a few times for my boyfriend. I really don’t know what it is I have been eating before, there is no comparison. Your recipe is out of this world and one of a few where I actually love spending my precious time on it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you :)

  86. I’m making this recipe now, and the sauce has been boiling for three hours, but it appears to be very very oily. Is this normal? Should I remove excess oil before I put it in the fridge or freeze it?

    Also, if I’m going to serve it on Monday, is it better to keep it in the fridge or freeze it till then (it’s Friday now)?

    Thanks so much!! I’m so excited to try this recipe!

    • Hi Chelsea, sorry I’m a little late to reply. It’s normal for some oil to come up to the surface while the sauce cooks down because you don’t drain the fat after browning the pancetta and meats. It adds to the richness and creaminess of the sauce (usually if you give it a good stir, the oil incorporates back into the sauce). If you notice excessive amounts of oil rising up, maybe it’s because you used fattier ground meats and bacon; just skim some out of the sauce. If you’re not serving the sauce right away, let it cool and store it in the fridge until it’s cold. The fat will solidify and then it’ll be easy for you to remove some of it if you want to.

      The sauce can keep in the fridge for two to three days. It freezes so well, you might as well store the sauce in portions in airtight containers as soon as it has cooled down, and freeze it until you need it. Remember that the sauce can take a while to defrost; just put a container of frozen sauce in the fridge the night before and it should be defrosted on time for dinner (depending on the size of the container, of course!)

  87. This recipe is at the top of the Google results for “how to make bolognese sauce”. Thank goodness! I usually improvise when I cook and I wanted to try making an authentic meal instead. Your clear directions (and great pictures) made that much easier than I anticipated. I made this yesterday for a dinner party and every single plate was scraped clean. Thank you!

  88. Thanks so much for updating this great recipe with a printable file… Very helpful. BTW, I have also made a great vegetarian version by substituting portobello mushroom for the ground beef. And a vegetable broth for the beef broth…. Left out the pancetta…. But frankly everyone loved both versions and most could not tell the difference…??

    • I am making a vegan version of this recipe for the second time. I use mushrooms in place of the pancetta and for the ground beef I use trader joes beefless ground beef. Instead of cows milk I use almond milk and in place of butter I use vegan butter (which is basically solid vegetable oil). The end result is remarkably close in flavor and texture to the real thing. I don’t know that i’d be able to tell the difference.

  89. Hiya, this sauce is sizzling away beside me as I type. I’m a bit confused though – you mention water in the meat stage but no liquid has been added at this point? Have I missed something? Thanks!

    • The water I mention is just the naturally occuring liquid that comes out of the meat as you cook it. Adding it a third at a time allows it to evaporate and brown nicely! Thanks for pointing out this part may be confusing, I will change the wording.

      • Oh great, so I followed it correctly – it sure tasted like I’d done everything right. Gorgeous rich flavour, my whole family loved it!

  90. I had bookmarked this recipe over a fortnight ago and finally made it this weekend with a friend of mine! Twas well worth the wait and turned out delicious. I added some basil to enhance the flavour of the sauce and it did wonders! By far, the best Bolognese recipe I’ve come across – definitely doing an encore :) thanks for sharing something so wonderful!

  91. I’ve been making bolognese for a while (mostly following the Marcella Hazan recipe), and though it’s always good, I want to try this one. How do you think it would fare when mixed with a bechamel in a baked rigatoni?

    Thanks!

    • I think it would fare very well, given that the flavor of the Bolognese is creamy, rich and smooth. Bechamel would be a nice complement.

    • Always happy to hear back from people who made themselves the best bolognese sauce they’ve ever tasted themselves. It’s so satisfying! No need to go out for your favorite bowl of pasta anymore :)

  92. I’m about to finish this recipie and I’m excited !!! I hope i get it right or close to it…let you know :)

    I have to say, it doesn’t taste at all like the first time I made since it had different ingridients; so far the taste of this one is great :D

  93. Señorita Marie,

    What an awesome recipe, what an awesome photos, what an awesome job!. You are so clever!

    Congrats! and Gracias!

  94. Thank you so much for such an incredible recipe! I’m not a very good (ok that’s an understatement) but your directions were very easy to follow and resulted in a delicious meal I made for my boyfriend for our one year anniversary. So thank you!

    • It is quite an easy recipe to make, but it’s spectacular in flavor, fit for a special occasion like your one year anniversary! Happy you liked the recipe and that it allowed you to celebrate deliciously.

  95. Hi there!!
    I am planning on making this today and had a question! Can I substitute red wine for the white? That’s the only thing I have in the house at the moment. Can’t wait to try this, thanks!

    • The sauce freezes like a charm! One recipe makes quite a big batch, so if you double it, just make sure you have a really big pot to cook it in so that the sauce can simmer well and excess liquids can evaporate throughout cooking. Making a double batch can take longer to cook; you want your sauce to become thick and flavorful, so if you notice that it’s still watery by end of the cooking time provided, just leave it to simmer for a while longer until it has reached the right consistency.

      • Thank you for your response Marie. It is going to be my Christmas meal for my family!I think I will make one batch ahead and one christmas moring.

  96. Thanks for the awesome recipe! I followed just as described, but after 4 hours the sauce still seems too watery. Ate it anyway- really good. I’m wondering what I can do to get it thicker now. Should I leave the sauce on low heat for more time, or put it in the fridge?

    • I’m surprised that the sauce still seemed watery after four hours! Did you cover the pot while the sauce was cooking? You need to leave it at least half uncovered so that excess liquids can evaporate. Putting the sauce in the fridge will give you the impression it has thickened, but it will become watery again as soon as you reheat it. You should keep on simmering it more (uncovered) until the sauce reaches the right consistency. Make sure to keep an eye on it and stir it once in a while so that liquids don’t over-evaporate and your sauce doesn’t burn.

      • I notice that mines was a little watery and not as thick. I will use your suggestion Marie to leave half uncovered. The flavor is wonderful and I can’t wait to have it for dinner tomorrow. I made it the night before since I didn’t make earlier in the day for dinner that night.
        Thank u again for the recipe

  97. Hello Marie,

    I must have made over 30 different variations of Bolognese sauce during my long lifetime(64yrs). I have tried liver, mushrooms, herbs, nutmeg, just about everything as recommended in various recipes, but oh boy, this one takes the biscuit! So authentic. Congratulations. The flavour is awesome.

    • Thank you so much for your comment Paul, I’m happy you liked the sauce, especially since you’re an expert on the subject! :)

  98. This bolognese sauce is reminiscent of my travels to Italy 5 years ago! I served it with homemade gnocchi. It was the perfect meal for the cold weather we are experiencing now in the northeast. Thank you for sharing, I will definitely be sharing this with my family and friends!

    • The Bolognese sauce does wonders on cool winter nights, but combined with gnocchi? That sounds like a very nice, filling meal, perfect to fuel up after a day out skiing!

  99. I became a big fan of this marvelous sauce after spending time in Bologna, Italy this past summer.

    I also can’t eat pork, so I used turkey bacon instead. It tasted great! Brava — what a fabulous recipe!

  100. Do you leave the Soffritto in the pan as you brown the meat? I am having a diner party and want to serve this receipe, but am trying it out first. It sounds great and your pictures are a huge help.

  101. Very good recipe. Just a tip for everyone, its one can of 28oz not 128 oz can. I made this mistake and I realized there was a space between the 1 and the 28oz !

    • Thank you for pointing that one out. I converted it to grams and thought, oh god I have to buy more cans! thank you thank you ! ;)

  102. I’m about to serve this recipe to just my husband and me. Do I add enough butter and cheese for all or for just the tow of us?

    • I would portion the sauce first, and then add just a little butter and cheese into the sauce that you’ll be using right now. Store or freeze the remaining sauce (and make sure to add butter and cheese every time you’ll reheat and use more of the sauce).

  103. I’m on hour two… House smells sooo good! I was using only ground beef, but then realized I had amazing Portuguese pork linguica in the fridge which I happily added. I’m Portuguese so it’s a great addition to this already amazing recipe, making it my own! Can’t wait to share with a couple coming over tonight :) Thanks so much for sharing!!

  104. Thank you for sharing your recipe. It’s 10:38 pm and I’m 30 minutes away from the 4 hour simmer.. I can’t wait to try this sauce! I just had to share that when I was browning the ground meat, leaving it for additional 15 minutes, left me with a black bottom! I followed the recipe in browning but it came out burnt! So when I was deglazing with a cup of Chardonnay, it was not enough to scrape the bottom so I had to add more wine to completely clean out the bottom of the pan. Now that I realized what could have gone wrong… I forgot to melt the butter on olive oil as you instructed.. Could this be the reason why the meat dried up so fast and burnt on the 15 minute mark?

    15 minutes to go….

    • I’m not sure what went wrong Lynn! Perhaps the heat was on too high? I have a gas stove, but cooking times can vary depending on your stove. You should always keep an eye on the pan during the browning stage to make sure you don’t burn your soffrito and meat mixture, or the taste of the sauce will suffer!

  105. Do you have a printer version option on your recipes? I looked for one, and didn’t find it. I would love to print the Bolognese sauce recipe.

    Thank you, Marie Frank

  106. A really terrific bolognese recipe – delicious. My version was true to the instruction for the most part including the Mirepoix foundation – but used half and half beef/pork and 4 slices of bacon diced. White wine used in the sauce was a dry Italian Masi (and to drink – a red Italian Chianti). The simmer smells are amazing – a very nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon at home.

    • Thanks for your comment Granton, I bet your house smelled amazing today! Your choice of wines sounds just perfect, I’d gladly have a glass of Chianti right now!

    • P.S. I’d appreciate you adding the credit and link back to my blog, especially since you are using one of my pictures in your post. Thanks for your understanding!

  107. This is my second time making this sauce and it is awesome!!! (It’s simmering, now on hour 2) I pretty much make it the exact way, but with a southwestern kick. I actually add freshly roasted hatch green chile (hot, diced, seeded), to the soffritto, and I stir in the queso fresco, a slightly salty, crumbly mexican white cheese to the completed sauce before simmering. I know, I know, but I’m telling you that it is amazing! I still add the freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, as the Queso Fresco cheese doesn’t have a very overpowering taste, but adds to the creaminess and flavor. I will probably be making this sauce 2-4x’s a month.

    • Hello Derekh, wow your adaptation sounds very intriguing! I’m convinced that it’s good, I can absolutely see how the queso fresco makes the sauce even richer and how the roasted green chile deepens the flavor. You recipe may not conform to the official 1982 registered recipe, but I’m sure it’s great and I love that you made it yours.

  108. I don’t normally comment on blogs but I just HAD to gush about how amazing this Bolognese is! I admit, I was skeptical at first about the milk, and when I was cooking the meat I was concerned about the browning/sticking/deglazing process, but OH MAN this is the most delicious pasta sauce I have ever tasted!

    I actually used italian sausage for my meat rather than the ground beef/pork mix, but I can’t imagine it could be any better. It’s rich and decadent–it even tastes cheesy somehow (and I haven’t added cheese yet!) It still has one hour left to simmer and I’m having trouble keeping my spoon out of the pot.

    5 stars, and I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes!

  109. For those who don’t eat pork, it may be possible to find a beef version of bacon, possibly at a kosher or a halal market. At Ken’s Deli, a kosher establishment in a northern Chicago suburb, I once had a Bacon Burger that was simply heavenly.

  110. Islamic Twist
    Unable to use pork, a little reseach online suggested that we use lamb as an alternative. Thereafter following your recipe to the word; save, leaving the bones taken from the lamb cutlets used as the bacon substitute in the pot to simmer for the 4 hours, your recipe was voted by all present, which covered a multitude of religions, the BEST bolognese sauce ever tasted.
    Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou.
    Alan & Zara

    • Alan and Zara, thank you so much for sharing your variation, lamb sure sounds like a perfect substitute. Leaving the bones in to infuse their flavor into the sauce during the simmering process is a great idea. Sounds so good, I might very well make my next batch with lamb instead of pork!

  111. I’m about to make this recipe this coming Monday, after having searched for a good bolognese recipe for years. Can you clear up an ambiguity related to serving? Do you put the butter and cheese into the individual serving bowls or is this done for the whole batch? Thanks. I can’t wait to try this.

    • Hello Michael, you should mix in the butter and cheese into the reheated sauce before serving in individual portions. I hope you’ll like the sauce as much as I do!

      • Marie, I made this recipe on Monday and it was wonderful–better than any Bolognese I’ve ever eaten, even at fine restaurants. I didn’t see your reply in time, but I’m having the left-overs tonight and will try it then. I’m also wondering what the effect would be of substituting light cream for the milk. Any thoughts?

        • I did substituted the milk with cream once and it made the sauce unnecessarily heavy. Better don’t. Congrats to Marie for un unusually authentic recipe.

          • Thanks Peggy for your comment, I agree that the cream isn’t necessary. Milk add just a touch of body and creaminess without being overpowering – it fact, it’s almost unnoticeable, and that’s how you want it to be!

  112. Thank you very much for this wonderful recipe, just cooked it for my girlfriend and she loved it! Having a glass wine now and enjoying ourselves, cheers!

  113. I am making this tonight for the second time. My hubby declared that this recipe will be the only bolognese recipe used from now on after tasting this dish a few weeks ago.

  114. Just wondering if it would matter if I used San Marzano diced tomatoes instead of the whole tomatoes that I needed to dice myself? Also, I have difficulty getting good, thick pancetta. Can I use bacon instead?

  115. I would love to make this, however because of my religion I can’t use wine. Is there a substitute which I can replace wine with or do I just add stock at the bit where the wine is added in the pan

  116. I have just made this, I don’t like wine in my food so i just left this out…. just on the 4 hour coock now… i cant wait.

  117. I’m trying this recipe, except without the pancetta/bacon (my guest doesn’t eat pork). I’ve made a similar recipe with and without pancetta, and it was delicious either way. I think this recipe will be just fine with all-beef for those that want to pass on the pancetta or bacon.

  118. This is the best bolognese recipe I’ve ever tried. Just made it today and it was so delicious. I never like any of the other recipes I tried. They’re either too meaty or the red wine smell too strong.
    This one is just perfect!!!
    Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  119. Sounds great. Thanks for the post. But you did say (perhaps mistakenly, I am not positive) that your onion, carrot, and celery mix was a basic sofrito. I think you mean mire poix?

    • Great observation! Soffritto is actually the Italian’s answer to mirepoix, and it usually consists of onions, garlic and celery sauteed in olive oil, although some cooks add carrots, leeks and/or herbs to the mix, according to the region or the recipe. Both serve the same purpose: a foundation of flavor on which dishes are built. I love sauteing those ingredients together, they fill the house with such a delightful aroma!

  120. I want to make a big batch of this for a couple trays of lasagna what changes do I make if I use 2 kilos of mince instead of one

    • If you double the meat, double all of the other ingredients! As for the cooking time, it should remain the same, but watch over it after the recommended 4 hours. If the sauce seems too watery still, leave it on until the texture seems perfect.

  121. OMG! YUM!  This was my first attempt at an "authentic" bolognese.  I followed your recipe to the letter, and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT.  Even my husband who is a marinara sauce guy, loved this dish!  It took all day to make (I also made pasta) but it was definitely worth the time, effort and money (Parmesano Reggiano was not cheap, but delicious).  Thank you for sharing. 

    • Thanks for your comment, I’m really happy you and your husband liked the sauce! Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano is definitely worth the splurge (for this recipe or any other pasta or risotto recipe) – the deep, nutty flavor makes all the difference in the world.

      • Yes Michele, bacon is fine, but do not use the smoked variety. Smoke would overwhelm the complex flavors of this sauce.

    • I have made this recipe multiple times, and it is a family favorite! I love the flavor and smells it brings to the kitchen. Delicious!

  122. So, I finally made this long awaited sauce today.  I must say that the house smelled amazing.  I won't eat it until tomorrow, but I imagine it will be even better, as some things tend to taste better reheated the next day.  I'm hoping that will be true for this one too.  Of course I was tasting it all along, and it does taste good, but I can't say I am over the top with it just yet.  I can say I had to cook it for close to 6 hours, as it was still quite watery.  It took forever to reduce.  Would you know if this can happen at times, or could it be something I did wrong?   I am also thinking it will thicken up overnight.   In looking back at the recipe, I think I might have forgotten to actually boil the milk and such when those liquids were added, though I am not 100% certain.  If i did, would you think that this might have made the difference in the time it took to reduce?  Also, I used my circulon pot, which is non-stick, so while I got a nice caramelization, I never really had the brown bits to deglaze.  I wonder how this changes things.  And last, but not least, do the tomatoes really have to be San Marzano?  At $5 a can, it is really worth it?  I look forward to all comments, suggestions, tips, advice and answers.  Thank you!  Merci!  P.S.  I asked you a while back about making it in the crockpot from the simmering stage on, so that I didn't have to stay home for 4 hours, in my case 6.  Now that I have made the sauce, I can tell you that I did not use the crockpot when I realized it had to reduce.  I am a newbie crock pot user, but assumed the sauce would never reduce, as the crockpot tends to make more liquid when I've used it.  Thank you!

    • Hello Karen, yes the sauce’s flavor definitely improves with age. About the reducing process, did you leave it uncovered? It may help to reduce it more quickly. Also you can bring the temperature a little higher, so the sauce simmers more vigorously (without burning) if you notice that it’s taking forever to cook.
      Deglazing a pan just deepens the flavor of the sauce. If you had a nice caramelization, the flavor should be great.
      San Marzano tomatoes are great (and they bring in lots of flavor), but if you can’t justify the expense, make sure you use Italian tomatoes (not just regular canned tomatoes). There are regular Italian tomatoes are indeed cheaper than San Marzanos.

  123. This is my second time making it, it's one of the best.  Guests loves it and there are no left overs.  Planning on making a triple batch :)  Thank you for a great recipe – 5 Stars all the way. 

    • I’m really happy you and your guests love this sauce as much as I do. Every time I get a great comment about it, I feel an urgent craving to make another batch! On my to do list for the weekend :)

  124. Bonjour Marie! Very excited to have discovered this recipe and this blog! Ì love supporting fellow Quebecers (I'm from Montreal). I stumbled upon it while searching for the perfect Bolognese sauce and I'll be trying it tonight. Very much looking forward to it!

    • Je suis très contente tu sois tombée sur mon blog Stephanie! I hope you’re going to love the sauce as much as I do (I’m pretty sure you will!)

  125. Hi Marie,
    Another BIG Bolognese fan here. It has not even cooked down yet and it's the best Bolognese I've ever had. Thank you especially for the details of the prep, ie cooking all the water out of the mirepoix (I used the biggest skillet I had for this to prevent the steam-frying effect) and letting the pancetta start the caramelization and then caramelizing the meat in batches.  I can get impatient sometimes with this, but I let every step fully develop as directed and it added exponentially to the dish, imo. This will be my staple meat sauce and when everyone's oohin & ahhin, I will be pointing them to Marie at foodnouveau. Grazie tanto!

      • I'll say! I barely managed to keep my spoon out of it while it cooked down all afternoon. I was in heaven when I got to fill my bowl this evening. So good.
        I shared some with my friends and promised my sister in law I'll make it for her next time I visit. I was surprised at the use of Chardonnay (and not a red wine) but it was so good.
        I'd just offer a suggestion for those who don't cook with much salt: Don't add the salt until it has mostly cooked down as there was a nice saltiness in the pancetta and tomatoes that concentrated as it all reduced. I ended up not adding any. And then of course- there's the Parmigiano! 
        Thanks again Marie. – I'll just have to make the Arancine now that I have all this sauce!! Nice for Easter.

        • Excellent point about the salt, I will edit the recipe. What a great idea to serve Arancine for Easter! I might very well make another batch :)

  126. Hi Marie,
    Continuing our discussion about how long it keeps in the fridge – I did keep it at least a week and it was still delicious.  Maybe it has to do with it being a sub-zero, I think they keep things better longer.   But I had it a week and a half later and it was still excellent.  I made it with veal, beef and pork, and doubled it.  The one thing I did discover is that if you double, you need to cook the meat in two separate pans to get that nice browning  – otherwise you end up boiling the meat. After that you can put it in a large pot for the 4 hours.  I couldn't find pappardelle, so I made my own spaghetti noodles (two eggs to one cup flour, knead WELL, then cut in narrow strips – see Pioneer Woman, Ryan's homemade noodles for instructions).  My family loved the homemade noodles, tossed in fresh basil and oregano.  This recipe is definitely a keeper!  Thanks so much for sharing it!

  127. I am making this right now and my house smells so good. Could not find pancetta (I mean, I could have gone to another store, but I settled on bacon. I cut away some excess fat.) Cannot wait to eat this! 

      • This was (and is… as I will probably be eating it for the next 3 days) some of the best pasta sauce I've ever had. I'm so glad you posted this recipe because I scoured the intenets for decent recipes and while, I'm sure many of them were great, they were very complicated concoctions involving all sorts of blended meats and creams and spices. This was simple, to the point, and delicious. Kind of how authenic Italian food should be. 

  128. wow. awesome recipie.  made if for the family this weekend. fun putting the time into the "gravy" and having it blow away just about 90% of restaurants attempts at this classic dish. thanks!

  129. Made this dish last night and it was a hit. Enjoyed the photo’s with step b step instruction. Found this surfing web. Thanks for sharing.

  130. Marie,
    I just made the sauce and it is excellent.  My question is, how long does it keep in the refrigerator?  I made it Friday, but don't plan to serve it until next Saturday, or a week from now.  Should I freeze or will it keep in a sub-zero until then?

    • Sorry that I took a while to reply to your comment – you probably did something with your sauce by now (hopefully, you’ve eaten it all! :)) I would keep it max 3-4 days in the fridge, and freeze it in portions if you plan to serve it later on. A good way to freeze the sauce is in zip-top bags, frozen flat. They defrost quickly and you can even speed up the process by plunging the bag in cold water for an hour.

  131. Hello there,
     
    Tried this magnificent recipe today. Must say that this is the best bolognese sauce recipe I've ever come across.
     
    Just one thing tough, the sauce that I did somehow had the meat a little dry, and there's a hint of bitternest. Maybe you could point out what I might be doing wrong?

    • Sounds like you over-reduced the sauce, and it may have burned a little on the bottom (which explains the bitterness). Next time, try to always watch over the sauce, especially towards the end of the cooking process, to make sure it doesn’t stick. Stop the cooking as soon as it feels like you’ve reached the right consistency – or add a little water if you reach that point too early in the cooking process.

  132. WOW!!!!!  Amazing sauce.  Tried it today and I have never had anything like it!  I followed the directions exactly, put my heart into it, and it was spectacular!
    Thanks for posting this.
    Della

    • Nutmeg has a delicate flavor and I don’t think it would make such a big difference in this sauce, which is already plenty flavorful as is. Also, nutmeg is not used in the original Italian recipe (which is why I’m not using it).

  133. I can't wait to try this recipe. I have been searching for a good recipe for MANY years. The first time I tasted a sauce like this was after giving birth to my 2nd child. My cousin spent all day nurturing a perfect Bolognese Sauce and arrived just in time to prevent me from eating the hospital issued dinner! It was so delicious, as you can imagine. I have never tasted anything like it. The problem was that she didn't write down a single thing and neither of us has been able to replicate it in 20 years!!! Can you imagine? I have been searching and will let you know how close I can come to that perfect meal. Of course without the freshly delivered child and ravenously hungry new mom it may not be possible.

    • What a great story! I’m so happy to know this recipe helped you guys live such a beautiful moment together. That’s what cooking is all about, right?

    • I’d say the recipe generously feeds 8, so to serve 12, you should double it indeed. As a bonus, you’ll have delicious leftovers! Happy new year to you and your family!

    • I have never tried it, but I’m sure you could. Just double-check your crockpot’s manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended cooking time and check on it from time to time to make sure it doesn’t try out too much.

  134. I randomly came across this recipe when searching for a good Bolognese sauce – it was fantastic! My family gave it a thumbs up to make again! Thanks for posting it.

  135. can i just use that picnic white wine like the stuff in cartoon. i have bought wine before in bottle for cooking. too strong to drink for me. i know nothing of wine.

    • If the wine is good enough to drink on its own, it’s good enough to use in the sauce. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t use it for cooking.

  136. I have to say, this is the best bolognese receipe I have ever used. It’s become a staple in my home and is consistent every time I make it. I usually cook a batch, then freeze it into portions for 2. Once defrosted, it tastes just as good as when it was first made. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    Mark

  137. Thanks for sharing this recipe, and for taking the time to annotate it thoroughly with details, commentary, and the lovely photos. We tried this last night with some homemade pasta, and it was deeelish! A definite keeper. Thanks so much!

    Quick question though… ours had a fair amount of oil that floated to the top, mostly during the 3rd/4th hours of cooking. Do you skim that off at all? Or is that integral to the sauce? Maybe our pancetta/meat was a bit fattier…

    • Happy that you loved the sauce, it’s definitely a hit anytime I serve it!
      About the fat rising up to the surface: yes, perhaps the pancetta you choose to use may influence the fat content of your sauce, but I believe the meat may have a bigger effect. I always use lean meat, perhaps you used a fatter ground meat which would make a big difference. I’d say that this sauce is definitely an indulgence, but I wouldn’t keep so much fat in there. You should see a shiny film floating over the surface of your sauce, but nothing more. If you feel there’s too much, scoop some up and throw it away. You can also let your sauce cool and then refrigerate it. The fat will harden and be very easy to remove (leave just a little bit to keep the sauce’s rich taste!).

  138. More than the recipe, I loved the pictures. We were in Bologna, Modena and Parma three weeks ago and we were in food heaven. My only question is, why not include Bay leaves? I’ve seen many recipes that say bay leaves should be included. Like this recipe from the Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/7017565/Italian-chefs-tell-world-how-to-make-correct-bolognese.html

    Is this a secret you got from one of the local chefs or a local grandma? Just wondering.

    Thanks!

    • My own mom (which is not Italian) does include bay leaves in her Bolognese recipe. Though it’s not included in the official registered recipe, you should include them if you feel like it – although, I must say, the sauce definitely isn’t lacking flavor without it!

  139. Hi,
    I have been a vegetarian for about 15 years and one meal that i do miss the most is a lovely rich bolognaise sauce. I have tried many times to make it with Quorn mince, but it never works out very nice (im sure all you meat eaters out there are screaming out why!!) i havr tried adding shop brought sauces like Ragu and Dolmino, but they are very tomatoey. So i stubbled apon your recipe and followed it still using Quorn and found myself using ingredients that i never knew would go into a bolognaise sauce like – carrots, celery and milk – and i was amazed with the result. This is the best bolognaise sauce that i have ever made and tasted and thank you so much for sharing it with us…YUM!!! :)

  140. Thanks for this recipe Marie! I was just looking for the best bolognese sauce on the web to experiment (this is my first time cooking this) and it turned out excellent! The only thing is that my sauce started to thicken after 1 hour of simmering. It could probably be as i was simmering it on my pan instead of a pot? Nonetheless, it was still amazing and it makes me want to go back to Italy again. :)

    • Yes, if you used a larger and shallow pan, your liquids most probably evaporated more quickly. If you don’t have a deeper pot, next time, cover it earlier to let it time to simmer at length (which is important to develop robust flavors!). And you are right about that, this sauce always makes me want to fly back to Italy!

  141. Hello,

    I can’t wait to try your recipe, but I have one question: Can I simmer for MORE than 4 hours? Would this improve my sauce or not make a difference?

    Thanks!

    • I think letting the sauce simmer for more than 4 hours may evaporate liquids too much, and after that much time, I’m not sure if you get significantly more flavor. If you do decide to simmer it longer, cover it when you feel like you have the right texture to make sure the remaining liquids don’t evaporate. Or try to adapt the recipe to cook it slowly for 8-10 hours using a CrockPot, I’m sure the result would be great! Good luck :)

  142. Ooh my, that was amazing! Just finished eating it and had to comment! We halved all ingredients and it came out lovely, a moment of worry when we first put in the milk, but it was amazing!

    Only thing we had a problem with was letting it simmer, only lasted about a hour before it was getting dry so ate it then! I imagine it was because the steam could get out but was still great.

    First time making any sauce, and will deft add to my cook book.

    • I was very surprised as well when I first read that Bolognese contained milk…! But how creamy and rewarding does it turn out. I wonder why your sauce cooked off so quickly, maybe your lowest heat setting is still hotter than mine. I’m sure it was great anyhow – and probably even better reheated.

  143. Hi, i am half italian and i tried out your recipe, it is easy to make and tastes fantastic, the best bolagnese i have ever made, thank you

  144. I was so excited to make this sauce after all the wonderful comments but mine is a ground meat soup. Very liquidy and not red in color :( The only difference in the recipe was using bacon instead of pancetta.

    Just returned from Italy last week and was so optimistic to try and replicate the delicious Bolognese but this recipe didn’t quite work out for me.

    • I’m so sorry that your sauce didn’t turn out well! The problem seems to be that the liquid didn’t evaporate enough. The whole cooking process should take around 4.5 hours: a half hour to sauté the vegetables, pancetta (or bacon) and meat, and then at least 4 hours of slow-simmer. Did you simmer it for that long? Also, did you make sure your pot was half- or uncovered? If the pot is covered, the liquids won’t be able to evaporate as well, and this is key to make the sauce thick and creamy. The color should be more orange than red – because there is not a lot of tomatoes and that milk is added.

      I would say that your sauce is probably good, it just needs to simmer further down. Try and put it on the stove again and simmer until most of the water is evaporated and you see the texture of the sauce is getting thick (without letting it stick to the bottom). I’m sure it can be fixed. Good luck!

  145. This was the BEST!!! I have wanted to make bolognese saucse for a long time. I decided to make this for my birthday dinner and it was fantastic!!!

    The photos helped tremendously.

    Thank you!
    Ann

    • Isn’t it one of the most satisfying sauces? Every time I get a comment on this post, I long for a bowl of this luscious sauce. I would eat it by the spoonful! I’m happy I contributed a little to your birthday dinner!

  146. Hi,

    in the process of making it, the picture’s are a reel help,

    can’t wait to taste the sauce, why so little spice?i could not help myself i added a little dry red pepper flakes, and used less milk, i also used choped lean bacon.could not get my hands on pancetta.anyway thank you for giving me a great idea for my next family meal.

    • Tom, authentic bolognese sauce is not spicy at all! It’s a very mellow, creamy and meaty concoction. I agree with you though that the addition of a kick of spice probably tastes delicious! As for replacing bacon for pancetta: cooking is all about making recipes your own and make do with the ingredients you have on hand. I’m sure your sauce was great.

  147. That looks super freakin awesome! I'm actually half way through making bolognese and was wondering why mine wasn't thickening up like I wanted… after reading this I want to throw it all out and start again. Have to cook bolognese again next week I suppose. What a pity ;)

    • I'm happy to know that my sauce has some "Grandma" authenticity as well! Thank you for your comment, really happy to have you as a reader. I'll go and check out your blog!

  148. What a hearty and thoroughly satisfying sauce. This is my first visit to your blog, though I suspect it will not be my last. I've spent some time browsing your earlier posts and must tell you that I love the food and recipes that you highlight here. I hope you have a wonderful day. Good luck in the FoodBuzz Project Food Blog competition. Blessings…Mary

    • Thank you Mary for your comment. The competition is really a coin toss! I've decided to do it just for fun – we'll see what happens. The great thing is that it has already brought me new readers like you, and just for that, it was worth it!

      • After rampant search of the internet (love you Google!), I decided to make my first bolognese using your receipe! I can barely type as I keep going to the simmering pot to try another spoonful! I don’t know if I can last another three hours! My steak and potatoes fiancee was once impressed with thus dish at Mama Lucias in Newport, RI. Since we have yet to come close to finding a medicore version somewhere else. Being I love to cook, I decided to give him the bolognese he lusts for. One small spoonful after only 30 mins of simmering was an orgasm in our mouths! Words cannot describe the taste! I wish my 100% Italian father was still with us to enjoy this dish as he would have happily died! I followed the receipe to a “T”, being walking distance from Providence’s Federal Hill you had visited. Fresh everything!
        I make never make another meal again! We thank you!

  149. My best bolognese ever was in a small restaurant in Rome called Colline Emiliane – it was amazing… but oh my – I think, from memory, yours looks better! I definitely agree that milk is required for the sauce – but I always had this impression it was to cut down on the acidity of the dish, to make it creamier… Have a great trip!

    • Derek: Thank you so much for your kind comments! I hope you will keep on finding my future posts as interesting. I'll work hard for it!

      Chowgirl: You definitely have to try this sauce. It's not hard to make and sooooo rewarding!

      Trissa: Oh great, I'm taking a note of that Roman restaurant, I'll try to track it down. You have a good point about the milk cutting down the acidity of the dish, I think it's what makes the sauce so mellow. Your blog looks yummy and I love your photography! I'll definitely follow your posts.

  150. I so agree with you about enjoying the planning phase of a trip. Isn't anticipation wonderful?

    I've never made my own bolognese sauce, but yours looks so incredible that I think I may have to try it very soon!

  151. Marie,

    I have just come across your blog by way of FoodGawker, and I must say that I am quite impressed from this one article. Your pictures are fantastic, instruction superb, and I greatly appreciate your love of culture, specifically food and language.

    I greatly look forward to exploring your blog, and all the treats you (hopefully) have in store!

    Cheers from your neighbor to the south,

    Derek

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