Spaghetti Bolognese

Serves 4 to 6
One day, when I found I didn’t have time to make a traditional Bolognese sauce, I came up with this abbreviated version of the original. I wanted that meaty-vegetably flavor and unctuous texture without the typical long cooking time—and I got it! It worked out very well and has been made over and over again ever since. Spaghetti goes well with this meat sauce, but just about any pasta you have in the cupboard will do nicely.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 pound ground beef, or a combination of beef and pork
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine
  • One 28-ounce can best-quality tomatoes, pulsed in a blender
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1 pound spaghetti or other pasta
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat a saucepan over low heat. Add the olive oil, onion, carrot, and celery and saute over low heat until lightly caramelized, about 12 minutes. Add the pancetta and beef and cook, separating the meat into small pieces, until browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain off most of the fat. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. Pour the wine into the beef mixture to deglaze the pan; stir to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the tomatoes and stir in the cream, black pepper, and red-pepper flakes. Gently simmer for about 40 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
  3. Start cooking the spaghetti when the sauce is within 10 minutes of being done. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and a generous pinch of salt to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.
  4. Stir the butter into the bolognese sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the pasta and serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.
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