Grandma's Bolognese

hand-cranked pasta served on a gray plate
Photo: The Ingalls
Prep Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins

Two types of ground meat (beef and pork) are enriched with pancetta and cream in this old-school Italian sauce, while porcini mushrooms and Marsala add wonderful depth of flavor. Make pasta night extra special by serving atop fresh pappardelle.


  • ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms

  • ¾ cup warm water

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 ounce pancetta or prosciutto, cut into ¼-inch pieces (¼ cup)

  • 1 small onion, minced (1 cup)

  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped

  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped

  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced (4 teaspoons)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

  • ¾ pound coarsely ground beef, preferably 85 percent lean

  • ¼ pound coarsely ground pork

  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano

  • Pinch of ground nutmeg

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil, plus small leaves for serving (optional)

  • ½ cup dry Marsala or red wine, such as Chianti

  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped (2 cups)

  • ¼ cup heavy cream

  • Fresh Pappardelle

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving


  1. Soak mushrooms in warm water 30 minutes; drain, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms (you should have 1/3 cup). Melt butter in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; cook, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 1 minute. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

  2. Add 2 tablespoons oil to Dutch oven; heat until shimmering. Add both meats, increase heat to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Return vegetables to Dutch oven with marjoram, nutmeg, parsley, and basil. Add Marsala and bring to a boil; cook, scraping up browned bits, until liquid has almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup mushroom liquid and mushrooms, broth, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Stir in cream and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened, 20 to 25 minutes more.

  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta to boiling water and cook until floating and tender, about 1 minute. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain. Transfer pasta to skillet with sauce. Add 1/2 cup pasta water; toss to combine and finish cooking, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat; add cheese and remaining 1/4 cup oil. Serve with more cheese, oil, pepper, and basil leaves, if desired.

Cook's Notes

Sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days, or frozen up to 3 months. Reheat in a large straight-sided skillet until bubbling.

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