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Dutch Oven Rigatoni Bolognese comes together quickly and deliciously in one pot with a true Bolognese sauce recipe that simmers for hours to develop deep, rich flavor. Here you’ll find some tips and tricks for making this Bolognese recipe in a fraction of the time as well!
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👉 What is the difference between spaghetti sauce and Bolognese sauce?
While spaghetti sauce and bolognese sauce are both tomato sauces, there are a couple of key differences. Spaghetti sauce is thinner and more mild in flavor. It’s usually made with canned tomatoes, and a few simple seasonings.
Bolognese sauce, on the other hand, is thicker, richer, heartier, and meatier. It’s made with ground beef and veggies that are simmered in a mix of seasonings, tomato puree, tomato paste, and red wine.
🍽️ Can you make Bolognese in a cast iron?
Absolutely! I use a cast iron dutch oven to put together this bolognese recipe. As we know, cast iron conducts heat more evenly which gives the beef a nice sear and keeps even a full dutch oven heated all the way through while simmering. Be sure to use a Dutch oven with a lid for this recipe to retain as much heat and moisture as possible during the cooking process.
You may find you need to add a bit more water or stock as it simmers so as not to burn on the bottom. Just give a stir when adding 1/2 cup of water or stock if it’s looking a little thick. Because of how well the Dutch oven retains heat, you can also turn the heat off on the stovetop and let it rest, or place it in front of your woodstove or fire place during the winter.
👩🏻🍳 Ingredients You’ll Need for this Bolognese Recipe
This bolognese recipe is a rich but simple sauce served over cooked rigatoni pasta. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Ground Beef, Ground Sausage or a 70/30 mix – adding a little ground pork can really enhance the rich flavor of this sauce. If using locally sourced beef, it tends to be more lean than store bought. So in this case adding some ground pork or sausage for the fat is a must!
- The Holy Trinity of Cooking – Carrots, Celery, and Onion, also known as miroux poix, adds both flavor and aroma to the sauce. Plus it’s an excellent opportunity to add some extra veggies to a picky eater’s dish.
- Mushrooms – Portobello, Cremini, or Porcini pair well with pasta. Whether you grab whole or pre-sliced mushrooms doesn’t matter. You’ll be chopping them up and sautéing them along with the miroux poix to get rid of excess moisture and enhance the natural sugars.
- Seasonings – If you have access to fresh Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Basil these are amazing! If you can only get dried herbs, those will work too! You can even use a dried Italian Seasoning if that’s what you have on hand.
- Tomato – We’re going to use both a tomato puree and tomato paste to enhance and bring out that rich, earthy tomato flavor. This will also add a vibrancy and acidic flavor to the overall sauce.
- Red Wine – Chose a medium-bodied to full-bodied red wine that will compliment and be able to stand up against the acidity of tomatoes. A Pinot Noir is an excellent choice.
- Beef Broth – Because we’re using beef and/or ground pork, use beef broth or beef stock to enhance the deep, meaty flavors and aromas. Chicken stock or vegetable stock will just leave it feeling a bit underwhelming.
- Worcestershire – A dash or so of Worcestershire sauce adds an umami flavor to the dish, which balances the overall flavor profile.
- Pasta – You can use really any pasta for Bolognese but the wide shape and hollow structure of Rigatoni really does well to offer pockets of pasta. The sauce is really the star of this dish while the pasta, unless making fresh pasta, is just a vessel for the sauce.
🍳 How to make Rigatoni Bolognese with video!
This dutch oven bolognese is so much simpler than it tastes. Check out this detailed collage or video and printable instructions if it’s your first time making Bolognese.
- Start by browning the ground beef in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook until browned, then drain the grease, but save 1 tablespoon.
- To the dutch oven, add in your onion, celery, and carrot. Sauté until softened. Add in crushed garlic, seasonings, herbs, and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
- Mix in red wine, beef stock, tomato sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the cooked beef, add parmesan rind, then simmer for 30 minutes – or longer for more intense flavors!
- Serve your finished bolognese sauce over rigatoni with the garnishes of your choice.
Now if that dutch oven meat sauce doesn’t look restaurant-quality, I don’t know what does!
🥘 Tips and notes
Chop the veggies small. Make sure you dice the onion, celery, and carrot pretty darn small so they incorporate well into the sauce. These veggies are supposed to create a flavor base, not add big chunks of texture.
Drain the grease. After browning the beef, save 1 tablespoon of oil, but drain the rest out of the pan. No one likes a greasy bolognese sauce!
Simmer longer. This dutch oven meat sauce requires a minimum of 30 minutes of simmering time. But I highly recommend simmering longer if you have time for it. The longer it simmers, the more intense the flavors will be.
Make it creamy. I love this dutch oven pasta sauce as-is, but if you want a creamier sauce, feel free to add in a splash of heavy cream or half-and-half. Though this certainly would not be an authentic Bolognese, it would be delicious! If you like creamy sauces, consider a penne a la vodka!
🧊 How to store Rigatoni Bolognese
For the best results, I recommend storing the sauce on its own. It will last for 4-5 days in the fridge or for up to 3 months in the freezer.
When you’re ready to serve it again, simply thaw it overnight in the fridge, then warm on low on the stove. Serve over fresh rigatoni pasta!
If you did mix all the sauce up with pasta, it will still last for up to 5 days in the fridge, but it won’t be quite as “saucy” and your pasta is likely to get overcooked when reheating.
🍲 What to serve with Rigatoni Bolognese
I love to serve my rigatoni bolognese garnished with a sprinkle of parmesan and fresh basil. It’s plenty filling on its own, but you definitely can’t go wrong with a side dish. Here are a few ideas!
- No Knead Dutch Oven Bread
- Brown Sugar Cornbread
- Lemon Garlic Green Beans with Slivered Almonds
- Roasted Garlic Italian Herb Focaccia
- Garlic Bread or Breadsticks
Dutch Oven Rigatoni Bolognese Recipe
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 white onions diced
- 2 sticks of celery diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 16 ounces mushrooms diced
- 1 Tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon of fresh rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons salt more as needed
- 1 teaspoon black pepper more as needed
- 1 cups red wine
- 2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 28 ounces tomato puree
- 2 cups beef stock
- The heel of a triangle of Parmesan
- Fresh Basil leaves
- Grated Parmesan
- To a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and cook through. Remove from dutch oven and drain of any excess fat, except 1 Tablespoon.
- Add the diced onions, celery, and carrots. Saute for about 5 minutes until onions become translucent and carrots become soft. Add in the diced mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to sweat and liquid to evaporate about 90%.
- Add the crushed garlic, seasonings, herbs, and tomato paste. Stir to combine and cook down about 2 minutes.
- Deglaze the pot with red wine, beef stock, tomato puree, and worchestire sauce. Stir to combine before adding the ground beef back to the Dutch oven.
- Add a rind of parmesan cheese (optional) and cover to simmer* for at least 30 minutes, longer if desired. The longer the simmer the more intense the flavors. Stir every 30 minutes or so to keep the bottom from burning.
- Serve over al dente rigatoni, topped with parmesan and fresh basil.