Now that the cooler temperatures have arrived, it’s time to cook a big pot of Bolognese sauce, a hearty meat sauce from Bologna, Italy. This recipe from the Williams Sonoma Pasta Cookbook contains a delicious version that uses up four types of meat and simmers for at least four hours on the stove. Served with fresh or dried long pasta, such as fettuccine, it is the perfect weekend dinner.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for canned tomatoes without preservatives (I use Unico brand) and butter that does not contain colour. Ask your butcher for prosciutto that contains only salt as a preservative. Look for a white wine with a sulfite level lower than 10 parts per million and a Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with no colour or artificial ingredients added.

I used the food processor to finely chop the vegetables

Gently brown the meat

Simmer the sauce over very low heat for at least four hours

Fettuccine Bolognese


1 28-oz (796 ml) can plum tomatoes

2 tbsp (30 ml) butter

1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil

1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped

1 small rib celery, including leaves, finely chopped

½ small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped parsley

¾ lb (375 g) ground beef, preferably chuck, or equal parts beef, veal and pork

2 oz. (60 g) thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped

½ cup (125 ml) dry white wine

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2/3 cup (160 ml) milk

1/8 tsp (0.5 ml) freshly grated nutmeg

2 tbsp (30 ml) kosher salt

1 lb. (454 g) fettuccine

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving


Drain the tomatoes, reserving their juice. Strain the captured juice to hold back the seeds. Using your fingers, push out the excess seeds from the tomatoes, then chop the tomatoes and set aside with the juice.

In a Dutch oven, or large, deep frying pan over low heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, carrot and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened but the onions are not coloured, about 12 minutes. Keeping the heat low, add the meat, including the prosciutto, and cook gently, stirring to break up any clumps, until the meat is just lightly coloured on the outside and is uniformly pink inside, about 8 minutes. Sitr in the wine and ½ tsp (2.5 ml) sea salt and simmer very gently until most of the alcohol has evaporated and the liquid begins to be absorbed by the meat and vegetables, 3-5 minutes.

Add the milk and nutmeg, return to a gentle simmer, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, and as soon as the sauce begins to simmer again, turn the heat down as low as possible so that the sauce barely simmers and only a few bubbles at a time break on the surface. Cover partially and continue to simmer, always over the lowest heat possible and stirring occasionally, for about 4 hours. The sauce should be deeply coloured, aromatic, and nicely thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper.

When the sauce is ready, bring 5 quarts (5 L) water to a rapid boil in a large pot. Add 2 tbsp (30 ml) kosher salt and the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer pasta to a warmed, shallow serving bowl or individual shallow bowls. Top with the sauce and serve right away. Pass the cheese at the table. Serves 4.

From Williams Sonoma The Pasta Cookbook