Frankie’s Pasta Bolognese

This recipe is featured in my novel, Missing in Firenze, book #2 in the Antonio Cortese Mysteries. In the story it is served to the family in the trattoria owned by a friend.in Firenze. For more information on my novels, check out my author website: frankcurtiss.com

This recipe was originally published in my cookbook, Frankie at Home in the Kitchen, available as an eBook on Amazon:

I don’t want to boast, but I spent much time fine-tuning this sauce, and I must say; that it is one of the best pasta sauces I have ever tasted. It was so good I almost wanted to cry!

About Bolognese:

Bolognese sauce originates from the proud city of Bologna (thus the name), which lies in the heart of the fertile Po Valley in Emilia-Romagna, in north-central Italy. It is a very cultured city which many consider to be the culinary capitol of Italy. If this sauce is any indication, I would agree. Bolognese is different from other meat sauces in that the meat is the star of the show, with the tomatoes in a supporting role. But there is one catch, you must start this sauce early in the afternoon, because it needs more than an hour to prepare and another three hours to simmer very slowly. This tenderizes the meat, so it melts in your mouth, causing your taste buds to scream bravo, bravo!


Makes 5-6 Servings

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup onion—chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup carrot—chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup celery—chopped fine
  • 6 ounces Pancetta—diced in small
  • pieces (1/4” or smaller)
  • 1 clove garlic—minced
  • 3/4-pound ground beef*
  • 3/4-pound ground veal*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1-1/4 cup dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)
  • 28 oz. can Whole Peeled Tomatoes—broken up with your hands
  • 3/4 cup canned Tomato Sauce
  • pinch crushed red peppers (optional)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pound hearty pasta—such as rigatoni (my favorite), fettuccine or tagliatelle
  • parmesan (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano) – grated or curled
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley—chopped
  1. Heat the butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed
    Dutch oven or a large deep skillet. Sauté the onion,
    carrots and celery until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add Pancetta and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and
    cook until onions begin to brown and garlic is softened and
    fragrant—2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the ground meats and 1/2 teaspoon salt. As meat
    cooks, chop it relatively fine with the back of a wooden
    spoon, until it just loses its raw color, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add the milk and simmer until it evaporates, about 10 to
    12 minutes (there will still be some clear liquid visible from
    the fats).
  5. Add the white wine and simmer until it evaporates, 12
    to 15 minutes. Use your wooden spoon to scrape any
    browned-bits from the bottom of the pan (lot’s of flavor!).
  6. Add the Whole Peeled Tomatoes with their juices, the
    Tomato Sauce, the chicken stock, and a pinch of crushed
    red peppers if desired. Bring to a simmer. Then reduce
    heat as low as it will go and simmer, stirring occasionally,
    for 3 hours (see Frankie’s Tip’s).
  7. Add several twists of fresh ground black pepper. Taste
    and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  8. When the sauce is almost done cooking, bring a large
    pot to a boil over high heat and add a tablespoon of salt.
    Cook your pasta until nearly al dente. Reserve about a
    1/4 cup of pasta water before draining.
  9. Drain pasta and return to the pasta pot. Stir the sauce into
    the pasta and pour in the reserved pasta water. Cook over
    medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  10. Serve up with parmesan and garnish with Italian parsley.

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