This Rigatoni Bolognese is one of my favorite weeknight dinners. The recipe is a classic that you can adapt to your liking.
What's to love about this recipe
This recipe is easy. It is definitely one to keep on your menu rotation especially when cooking ground beef.
If you plan your weekly menus and include dishes like meatballs and have leftover ground beef, this recipe is a great way to use it.
What is Bolognese
Bolognese is meat sauce in which the ratio of beef and tomatoes favors the amount of meat versus the amount of tomatoes. Simply is a meatier sauce.
Bolognese sauce is thicker and meatier than a Ragu which has more liquid via more tomato sauce.
Ingredients you need for this recipe
- Rigatoni pasta: This is a short, tube-shaped pasta with rigged edges which makes it perfect to pickup the sauce and meat in this dish.
- Ground beef: I like to use lean beef for this recipe so a 93% lean works for me but feel free to use your favorite ground beef.
- Mirepoix: This is just diced onion, celery and carrot.
- Garlic: Minced garlic is a must in this recipe, I like to use fresh garlic.
- Tomatoes: Canned crushed tomatoes to build up our sauce
- Chicken stock: We are using this to build up flavor and deglaze the pot once we caramelize the mirepoix.
- Wine: Dry white or red to deglaze the pot from caramelizing the veggies and beef.
- Pancetta: This ingredient is optional but highly recommended for a traditional Bolognese. You can substitute for bacon or leave it out.
- Parmesan cheese: This is used for garnish but adds a ton of flavor to this dish.
Tips and substitutions for this pasta
You can substitute ground beef in this recipe for Italian sausage, pork or a combination of these.
Ground chicken and turkey can also be used in this recipe but the sauce won't be as rich.
If you want to save time on prepping, most stores have a Mirepoix mix ready in their refrigerated vegetable section.
If you don't have Rigatoni, Penne is your next best bet. I also love Cassarece which is a rustic pasta shape.
You can use chicken stock in a pinch in place of the beef stock. You can also use a dry white wine or red wine to deglaze the pot after caramelizing the veggies.
Pancetta is used to help caramelize the veggies and brown the meat. You can use bacon or leave it out. Use avocado oil instead to caramelize the mirepoix.
Make-ahead, Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions
The bolognese sauce can be made ahead of time. The pasta on the other hand is best when fresh.
Make-ahead: The beef bolognese can be made in advance and kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Store it in the fridge in an airtight container, I like to use glass containers. If you use plastic, the container maybe stained by the sauce.
Freezing: You can freeze the Bolognese sauce in a ziplock bag or a freeze-safe container. You can portion it out for easy reheating, thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Reheating: in a saucepan on the stovetop on a medium heat until warmed through. I don't recommend using the microwave as it can make the beef though and over cook it.
- Dutch oven
For the Bolognese
- 2 Celery stalks finely chopped
- 2 Carrots Finely diced
- 1 Yellow Onion Finely diced
- ⅓ cup Pancetta
- 1 LB Ground Beef I use 93% lean
- ¼ cup Avocado Oil
- 1 cup Sauvignon Blanc Or any dry white wine
- 1 cup Canned pureed tomatoes
- 4 cups Chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Rigatoni 16 ounces
- basil for garnish
- Parmesan cheese
Make the Bolognese
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot¼ cup Avocado Oil
- Add the pancetta, celery, onion and carrots and brown for 12 minutes until vegetables are lightly browned2 Celery stalks, 2 Carrots, 1 Yellow Onion, ⅓ cup Pancetta
- Season the ground beef with salt and pepper.1 LB Ground Beef, Salt and pepper to taste
- Add the beef to the pot and cook on high heat until nicely browned for about 10 minutes.1 LB Ground Beef
- Add the white wine and allow it to fully cook for about 10 minutes until all the liquid evaporates.1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
- Add the tomatoes and cook until the meat sauce starts to look dry, about 10-12 minutes1 cup Canned pureed tomatoes
- Add the chicken stock and reduce the heat to low, simmer for 3 hours until the liquid evaporates considerably and the sauce looks thick4 cups Chicken stock
Cook the Rigatoni pasta
- 15 minutes before the Bolognese is ready, cook the pasta in salted water following package instructions
- Reserve 1 cup of pasta water
- Once cooked, add the Rigatoni and pasta water to the pot with Bolognese
- Serve with parmesan cheese and basil