Marcella Hazan’s Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style



Much beloved and respected Italian chef and cookbook author, Marcella Hazan, passed away on September 29th at the age of 89.  Her impact “on the way America cooks Italian food is impossible to overstate” said the New York Times.  “I didn’t pay attention to Julia Child like everyone else said they did,” Mario Batali recalled. “I paid attention to Marcella Hazan.” Here is her classic recipe for Ragu —

Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style
From The Classic Italian Cookbook, by Marcella Hazan.

Servings: 6 servings or 2¼ to 2½ cups


  • 2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion

    Photo from Dinner a Love

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped carrot
  • ¾ pound lean beef, preferably chuck
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped, with their juice


An earthenware pot should be your first choice for making ragu.  If one isn’t available use a heavy, cast-iron skillet. Put in the chopped onion, with all the oil and butter, and sauté briefly over medium heat until just translucent. Add the celery and carrot and cook gently for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef, crumbling it in the pot with a fork. Add 1 teaspoon salt, stir, and cook only until the meat has lost its raw, red color.  Add the wine, turn the heat up to medium high, and cook stirring occasionally, until all the wine has evaporated.

Turn the heat down to medium, add the milk and the nutmeg, and cook until the milk has evaporated. Stir frequently. When the milk has evaporated, add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly. When the tomatoes have started to bubble, turn the heat down until the sauce cooks at the laziest simmer an occasionally bubble. Cook uncovered, for a minimum of 3½ to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and correct for salt.
Serve over your favorite pasta…Marcella preferred tagliatelle.


Read this lovely remembrance of Marcella in the New Yorker along with this cartoon by the author.


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