News and Tribune


May 16, 2014

BBQ MY WAY: Try out some beef bolognese

Holy cow. I have been stopped numerous times this week by readers of this column, commenting on last week’s edition entitled “Salad in a Jar.”

It sounds as though that column could be responsible for lots of lost weight and healthier people in the future here in Southern Indiana. I am guessing local retailers also saw a jump in their Mason jar sales.

So this week I am going to totally head in another direction. It is my fervent and steadfast opinion that every cook should know how to make a legit bolognese sauce, also known as ragu.

First of all, please wipe from your memory all tastes of the overly sweet tomato based ragu sauces that you buy at the store. The end result of this recipe and technique tastes nothing like those imitations. It is beefy, hearty and naturally sweet, and the beef melts in your mouth. You can also add ground pork (2 parts beef to 1 part pork) from the Boston butt or neck.

And just so you know, this recipe and technique isn’t mine. It is basically Marcella Hazan’s. She is to Italian cooking what Julia Child is to French cuisine. So, yeah ... it’s legit. And yes, it takes time, so it’s definitely something to make on a rainy weekend day. But oh my, it is totally worth it.

A few points that are very important. First, you can’t use really lean beef or pork. It has to contain 25 percent fat. You have to use whole milk and you absolutely have to be patient. If you can’t find the canned Italian plum tomatoes, normal canned tomatoes work well.

I made this last weekend and video taped it. You can view the video at


3 Tbs. butter

1 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1.5 lbs. ground beef (75 percent lean; could be 1 lb. beef and 1/2 lb. pork)

1 1/4 cups chopped yellow onion

1 2/3 cups chopped celery

1 2/3 cups chopped carrot

 2 1/2 cups of Italian plum tomatoes with liquid. (Comes to just slightly less than two cans.)

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/3 cups dry white wine

Just shy of 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven or thick bottomed pan, combine the oil and butter over medium heat. Melt and add the chopped onions. Sauté until translucent. Now add the carrots and celery. Sauté for another couple minutes. Add the meat and 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Break up meat and cook until no rawness is


Add the milk. Bring back to a medium boil over medium to medium high heat. Stir regularly. After half hour or so, the milk will be gone. You have to cook until the milk is gone. Now add the nutmeg and the wine. Bring back to a similar boil and stir regularly. After half hour, the wine will also be gone. Again, it’s important that you cook and stir until the wine is gone.

Now add the tomatoes, liquid and all. Make sure they are chopped up into small pieces. You will now bring the sauce to a very low boil, to the point that you only occasionally see bubbles. Stir occasionally and let simmer without a lid for at least three hours. Occasionally you might need to add half-cup water to keep it from getting too dry.

After three hours the end result should be thick and hearty, not soupy at all like the canned sauces. It should be beefy, tender and sweet. You have never tasted a sauce like this. Serve over your favorite pasta noodles with a shaving of Parmesan cheese. This will be a recipe you can pass down to your kids and grandkids. Then, go back to eating salads in a jar the following week.

— Dave Lobeck is an Edward Jones Financial Advisor in Jeffersonville by day and a BBQ enthusiast and foodie on nights and weekends. He is also a Kansas City Barbecue Society judge. Liz is his wife. You can contact Dave and Liz with your BBQ, grilling or cooking questions at or at

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