A Fantastic Bolognese Sauce

Spaghetti Bolognese is definitely one of our favorites at home!
spaghetti bolognese pinit

Mmm, who doesn’t love a good spaghetti bolognese sauce?

Definitely a family favorite for us!

SOME PEOPLE claim to have the best bolognese Sauce. You can google that all you want, but ………sorry……….there is no way one is the best. It can only be best for some, not all. Not for me!

Most people who regularly cook have perfected their own Bolognese. They add or do not add certain ingredients. They are also not afraid to experiment and try other subtle ingredients. You cook it so often, its a recipe that really allows you to customize!

Slow cooking is a must. Otherwise you can not even be in the good section, at best your sauce will be….. not bad.

I still remember in my early teens being at my best friend’s house when we discovered his Mama’s slow cooked sauce bubbling on their stove. My friend grabbed a spoon and we secretly tried it. He already knew how good it is and wanted me to try it. It was so good and the smell of that sauce is still with me today. Funny how you remember some things!

And what about Authenticity? Lets make this clear – This is not the ‘authentic’ Ragu Bolognese. Here is a very interesting article written by an american blogger living n Bologna about this subject, Ragu Bolognese.

My Special Ingredients

Lemon Zest

The first special ingredient for me was lemon juice and lemon peel. I tried adding tangerine peel and the whole family complained of its sweetness to the sauce. If you use orange, it is more bitter. This is something that you must not taste in every bite. That’s what makes this Bolognese so fantastic. The diversity of taste in every bite and one of those flavors is a citrus peel

Anchovy paste

Anchovy paste is the second special ingredient. It adds to the lusciousness and depth of the taste. Some say it gives extra umami if you like that term. Bolognese sauce should be rich in taste with many different flavors coming in to play creating a symphony of delight! What I love the most is the potential surprise in every bite. Maybe its a slight bitter orange or if you are even luckier, you crunch into a fennel seed.

Fennel Seeds

Thats right! Fennel seeds is my next special ingredient. Discovered this about a year ago  and I’m not going back. What a delight to the buds when you catch one!

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire Sauce in Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

I don’t think you ever taste it but I am quite confident it adds beautifully to the sauce’s ardent complexity. I am not shy with the amount here too. I want that complexity.

Lots of Red Wine

Red Wine for Spaghetti Bolognese

Red wine – ok here I indulge big time. I’m rarely happy with the amount requested in most recipes. For me the wine is a key meat marinade that should be allowed to sink into the meat before we add the tomato sauce. I cook the meat mixture longer and with more wine than most. By the way, if you open up a bottle and it is not drinkable albeit cork or something, don’t throw it away. Use it for your next Bolognese!

So now is the time to talk about milk? The ‘authentic’ recipe from way back calls for it but I believe this is just a way they wanted to better tenderize the meat. Maybe this makes sense if you using both pork and sausage. I use quality beef, period, so it is not necessary for my sauce.

An Important Tip – let it cook!

Once we added all the ingredients and its ready to simmer for a few hours, don’t be afraid to add enough water. This allows sauce to cook together more freely and worst case, you just have to cook a little longer to boil the excess off.

So I wonder what ingredients I will discover in the future? It should be something just like the orange peel or fennel seeds. Another instrument solo  Hmmm  what could it be? It won’t be milk but how about Anise? Just thought of it, wonder if any one has tried it.

For me, Bolognese sauce is a symphony of flavors, and the cook is the dirigent, leading the improvisation.  As the director of my sauce, I will continue to add a violin sonata or a interweaving trombone. A little improvisation to let the music do the talking. Hopefully my next guests will give me a bouquet of roses just like at the end of a concert. Rose petals? Can you taste them in a slow cooked bolognese

A Fantastic Bolognese Sauce

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 60 mins Cook Time 120 mins Total Time 3 hrs
Servings: 6
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


Spaghetti Bolognese with a few special ingredients: 

  • Fennel Seeds
  • Lemon zest
  • Anchovy Paste
  • Worchester Sauce


How to make a head nodding, belly smiling Bolognese Sauce


How to make a great Bolognese Sauce

  1. The Overture

    Brown the beef in a large pan at moderate heat. Once the meat is browned, remove from the pan and drain all the grease from the meat. Clean any leftover grease in the pan with a paper towel or however you like.

  2. 1st Movement

    Chop the onions and garlic

    Remove outer skin of carrot and finely chop.

    Chop fine some lemon zest

    Heat the Olive Oil in the pan

    Add the onions and garlic and cook until onions are glassy

    Add the tangerine peel and carrots and let cook for a few minutes 

    If you need, add a little water. It helps the initial cooking and just boils off.

  3. 2nd Movement

    add beef back to pan

    add the worcestershire sauce

    add the oregano

    add the fennel seeds

    add the wine 

    Cook for 10 minutes


  4. 3rd Movement

    add the tomatoes

    add the tomato paste

    add the anchovy paste 

    add the basil and bay leafs

    stir well and bring to a nice boil

  5. Fourth Movement

    turn the temperature to low (normally 2) 

    cover and let simmer for two hours

    check about every half hour if the sauce needs a bit more water to cook and add it accordingly 

    taste it and add salt and pepper to your liking

    serve with grated parmesan cheese on the side

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1/2 cup

Servings 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 272kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Cholesterol 78mg26%
Sodium 358mg15%
Total Carbohydrate 12g4%
Dietary Fiber 3g12%
Sugars 7g

Calcium 4 mg
Iron 95 mg

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Keywords: Bolognese, Spaghetti, Fennel Seeds, lemon zest

Did you make this recipe?

Did you make this recipe? 

Did you make this recipe? 

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  1. If you are looking to add a compliment of anise, you might try Thai Basil instead of regularly basil. It’s delicious!

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