Better Bolognese

powerfully delicious red sauce

This is a powerfully delicious red sauce, which can be made powerfully spicy as well.

I’ve slowly improvised on several of my recipes, and my bolognese sauce is one that has changed the most, probably because I long since stopped actually reading the recipe when I make it!

So, here’s my best guess at what my median recipe would be for this new version. Enjoy!


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (optional - this makes it really spicy)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or microplaned
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 2 large cans San Marzano style tomatoes
  • 1-2 lb. ground italian sausage (I usually get mild or medium, but you can crank up the heat here too)
  • 1/2-1 cup chicken stock (optional - if you want the sauce a little mellower and not as thick)
  • sugar to taste (to help cut the acidity)
  • seasonings
    • salt
    • pepper
    • oregano
    • thyme
    • basil
    • red pepper flakes
    • fennel seeds
    • garlic powder
    • onion powder


  • large dutch oven or large pot


  1. In dutch oven or separate skillet, brown the meat until cooked, trying to get just a bit of dark brown color in a few spots for extra flavor.
  2. Heat butter or oil in dutch oven until shimmering (or just use the juices from the meat). Add onion, carrots, celery, and peppers, and cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, crush the tomatoes by hand, pulling out any hard bits from the core. Add to dutch oven, along with the stock (if using).
  5. Bring to boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer until it gets a nice, rich and dark red color (you’ll know when you see it). Usually takes 30 minutes to 1 hour - the longer the better. I usually get the sauce going before I start rolling out my homemade pasta.
  6. Season to taste as it cooks. Usually doesn’t need much salt at all, but I like to add quite a few dried herbs, red pepper flakes to adjust heat, and fennel seeds for a unique flavor if the sausage doesn’t include them. You can also integrate in a few fresh herbs as well, but they aren’t necessary for great tasting sauce. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time, only to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.

Marinara sauce - omit the meat and chicken stock. Once it is ready, use a blender to blend it into a thick sauce to use as either a pizza sauce or dipping sauce, or serve with pasta for a smoother sauce experience.

Serve with lots of freshly grated parmesan, romano, asiago, or other hard aged cheese.