Pasta drawn by grandson Anthony, age 11.

Pasta drawn by grandson Anthony, age 11.

Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce


Serves 6


  • 1 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbs. butter plus one for tossing the pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrots 
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef chuck (See note below.) 
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk 
  • whole nutmeg 
  • 1 cup dry white wine 
  • 1 1/2 cups imported Italian plum tomatoes  cut up, with their juice
  • 1  1/4 to 1 1/2 lb pasta (wide noodle like tagliatelle) 
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table


  • Add oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot, turn the heat to medium and sauté the onion until it becomes translucent. 
  • Add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.
  • Add the beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. 
  • Crumble the beef with a fork, stir well and cook until it has lost its raw red color.
  • Add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. 
  • Add a tiny grating – about ⅛ teaspoon of nutmeg and stir.
  • Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all the ingredients well. 
  • When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. 
  • Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time.
  • While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, continue the cooking, adding 125ml water whenever necessary. 
  • At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
  • Toss with cooked, drained pasta like a tagliatelle and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.


Ragú, is the  Bolognese name for their delicious meat sauce. The meat should not be too lean a cut. The more marbled it is, the sweeter it will be. 

  • Add salt immediately when sautéing the meat to extract its juices. 
  • Cook the meat in milk before adding wine and tomatoes as it will remain mellow rather than bitter. 
  • Use a pot that retains heat like earthenware or enameled cast iron. 
  • Cook, uncovered, at the merest simmer for a long, long time; at least 3 hours, but more is better.