Kim’s Bolognese Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    2½ qt

Appears in

The New Kosher

The New Kosher

By Kim Kushner

Published 2015

  • About

Ragù alla bolognese, which originated in the city of Bologna in northern Italy, is traditionally made with ground beef, pork, and vegetables and is enhanced with milk and seasonings. So it’s obvious why a kosher cook might have trouble duplicating an authentic Bolognese sauce. For years, I’ve perused kosher cookbooks searching for a great meat sauce recipe. What I usually found were versions loaded with ketchup and sugar-more sweet-and-sour than a truly hearty and full-bodied Bolognese. After a bit of experimentation and some mixing and matching, I found a way to achieve a gorgeously thick, rich-tasting, aromatic meat sauce. I also discovered a magical ingredient. A few years ago, I met a woman in Italy who told me the secret to her Bolognese came from her mother. When the sauce was done, she stirred in a tiny amount of good honey, just to release the sweetness. This takes the flavor from homemade to gourmet, and I love the results. When you try it, you’ll understand.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 carrots, about 5 lb (2.5 kg) total weight, peeled and grated
  • 3 ribs celery, grated
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can (6 oz/185 g) tomato paste
  • 3 cups (24 fl oz/750 ml) dry red wine (don’t be cheap; use a wine you would enjoy drinking)
  • lb (1.25 kg) ground beef
  • 4 cans (15 oz/470 g each) crushed tomatoes, or 2 jars (26 oz/815 g each) marinara sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon pure raw honey


In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and bay leaves, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste, incorporating it into the vegetables, then stir in 2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) of the wine. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Crumble in the beef and, using a wooden spoon, stir it into the vegetables, breaking the meat apart into small pieces. Add in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often and continuing to break up the meat. Add the remaining 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) wine and the basil and season generously with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium, cover partially, and cook until the sauce has thickened to perfection, about 40 minutes longer.

Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Remove and discard the bay leaves and stir in the honey. This recipe makes a huge quantity, but luckily the sauce freezes beautifully. (I use it in lasagne as well as over pasta.) Freeze it for for up to 1 month, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and reheat over medium heat.