Pasta With Bolognese Sauce

I made a resolution to eat healthy this year, honest I did.  Not that I ate that badly last year (well, save for the string of Sunday morning donuts.)  It was just the generic new-year vow to start off on a good note.  You know, eat more vegetables, less fatty foods, make sure I get all my DV of calcium (pudding counts towards that, right?)

But then, I keep craving all these hearty, meaty foods.  Like stew. And bean burritos.  And chicken pot pie.  And this bolognese sauce.  The first time I ate this sauce, my husband spent all afternoon making it.  I had come home from a particularly arduous Friday.  Students tend to be more unruly on Fridays.  This one had been especially so.  I could smell this sauce before I even stepped inside the house.  As soon as I ate the first bite, I was hooked.  I never thought a meat sauce could be described as “velvety,” but the adjective totally fit.


adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, November 2011

Pasta With Bolognese Sauce

Pasta With Bolognese Sauce

This recipe makes enough sauce to serve with two pounds of pasta. I usually make the full recipe, and freeze half the sauce for later.


2 c beef broth
1 oz box of unflavored gelatin (3 packets)
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
4 oz pancetta, roughly chopped
4 oz mortadella, roughly chopped (can substitute with bologna)
6 oz chicken livers, trimmed
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ lb 85% lean ground beef
¾ lb ground pork
3 Tbs fresh sage, minced
6 oz can tomato paste
2 c dry red wine (I used Chianti)
Salt and pepper
1 lb pasta, cooked to al dente with some of the cooking water reserved (something that will hold a hefty sauce)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Pour broth into a bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the top and set aside.’
  2. Place onion, carrots, and celery in a food processor. Pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Place pancetta and mortadella into the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to another bowl. Place chicken livers into the food processor and pulse until pureed. Transfer to a third bowl and chill in fridge.
  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ground beef and ground pork and brown, breaking up the pieces into bits. Continue cooking the meat until most of the liquid has evaporated and meat sizzles, about 15-20 minutes. Add chopped pancetta mixture and sage; cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chopped vegetables and cook until softened, another 5-7 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about 3 minutes.)
  4. Stir in the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up any browned bits. Stir in the broth/gelatin mixture and cook until bubbling. Reduce heat to low and cook (uncovered) until sauce has thickened, about 1 ½ hrs.
  5. Stir in chicken livers, bring sauce to a boil, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, add half the sauce to the pasta along with a little of the pasta water. Toss to combine. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

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Sweet Comments:

  1. Oh wow! This sounds so wonderful. I’ve never seen gelatin in a sauce recipe like this before. Is that traditional in bolognese or is it a quicker way to get a thicker sauce? I am intrigued!

    • Kokocooks says:


      Gelatin is not a traditional ingredient in bolognese. It helps give the sauce that velvety smoothness, which is one of the things I loved about this recipe.

  2. This looks fab. You should give Dreamfields pasta a try… it’s a healthier alternative and taste just like the real deal but more digestible carbs!

    • Kokocooks says:


      I haven’t heard of Dreamfields pasta. Will have to check it out. Have you written a review of it?

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