Italian Bolognese with Maria Papa

Updated: 07/13/2014 9:52 AM
Created: 07/13/2014 9:38 AM WNYT.com
By: Cadence Acquaviva



Creating a true and authentic Lasagna Bolognese is a time and labor intensive feat, and does not at all resemble the quick casserole - type of dish we have come to call lasagna.  But rising to the challenge and making this dish will give you and yours a wonderfully complex and flavorful experience.

This recipe is divided into four (4) steps spanning over several days;

1.  Bolognese Sauce (2-3 days ahead)

2.  Pasta Noodles (1 day ahead)

3.  White Sauce

4.  Assembly and Baking

Bolognese Sauce

The secret to any truly wonderful, multi-layered flavorful sauce is the time you set it aside to marinate in the refrigerator and let all of the natural flavors of the ingredients melt together to form your masterpiece -- it's like letting nature do the work for you.  And this secret is especially true with Bolognese Sauce.  At More Perreca's Italian Kitchen, we make this Bolognese Sauce only two times a week: we are working from one batch, while the other batch marinates.


1/4 c. olive oil

3 stalks celery

1 large Spanish or Vidalia onion

1 large carrot

1/2 lb. pancetta (Italian bacon)

1 lb. lean ground beef

1/2 lb. ground pork

1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage (loose)

1c whole milk

1 c white wine

2 c beef stock

1- 1/2 c. crushed canned tomatoes

1 Tbs. tomato paste

salt & pepper to taste

On medium heat sauté the vegetables and meat mixture using olive oil in a stock pot until the meats are cooked through.  This should be done nice and slowly, to allow, of course, the meats to cook, but also the vegetable to slowly break down and melt their flavors into the meat and vice versa.

Add wine, milk and beef stock,  stir, and let simmer on low heat for 1 hour -- stir occasionally and add more broth if needed;

Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for another 1- 1/2 - 2 hours on low heat.  Cooking the meats in the milk and wine mixture first and adding tomatoes later on in the cooking will give you a multi-layers of flavors with little acidity;

Add salt and pepper to taste if needed;

Transfer into a glass bowl and set in the refrigerator uncovered to cool.  Once mixture is cooled, cover and leave in refrigerator for 2 - 3 days before making your Lasagna Bolognese.

Pasta Noodles:

Give it a go with homemade pasta noodles.  Skip the crusty boxed noodle from the store and make your own.  It's easy.  If you have a pasta maker to roll the dough out, all the better, but you can also roll your dough out using a rolling pin and manually cutting to size.

One day ahead -- make your dough:


4 cups flour

4 large eggs

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp salt (or 1/2 tsp kosher salt)

At this point you can bring out your fancy mixer with the dough hook attachment ... or, since we are being uber authentic here ... you can make your dough the Italian grandma way by first combining salt with the flour and making a pile on your counter or cutting board surface.  Make a well in the middle for the eggs and the oil and whisk them together leaving the flour on the outside.  A true Italian grandma would actually mix the eggs in the middle well by hand, but I will save you from that experience because it just isn't that good.  Next, with your hands, start adding and mixing the flour little by little to the egg mixture until all flour is completely incorporated.  Your dough is going to seem a little dry at this point, but kneading it until it becomes smooth is your next step.  When this is complete, wrap your dough in plastic wrap and let sit in refrigerator overnight.  This last step cannot be skipped.  Sorry.

White Sauce:

1/2 c. butter

1/2 c. flour

4 c. hot milk (whole)

pinch of salt (only if using unsalted butter)

pepper to taste

pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Melt butter in a saucepan and slowly whisk in the flour -- adding just a little at a time.  Sorry, but if your butter turns brown, it's burnt and you are going to have to start over.

Slowly add in hot milk -- whisking continuously.

Add salt, pepper, nutmeg.

Assembly and Baking:


Butter for coating lasagna pan

2 c. grated Parmigianino Reggiano -- this really is the best grated cheese in the world and will have a dramatic impact on the taste of your finished dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees;

Coat lasagna baking dish (approx 14 inches) with butter;

Layer bottom with thin coating of White Sauce;

Add layer of pasta sheets;

Add thin layers of white sauce, Bolognese sauce, and sprinkle with Parmigianino Reggiano and pasta sheets;

Continue making thin layers in this way -- you ultimately want 7-8 thin layers for your authentic Lasagna Bolognese;

Cover lasagna with foil and set in pre-heated oven to bake for 50 - 60 minutes;

Uncover and bake until top is golden brown;

Let lasagna sit once out of oven to "rest" before cutting and serving -- at least 30 minutes, but 40 - 45 is better.  You've gotten this far, don't skimp on this last step.


Maria Perreca Papa

More Perreca's Italian Kitchen

July 2014


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