Slow-Braised Bolognese Sauce

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of Louisiana Kitchen & Culture magazine

Serves a crowd

  • 2 pounds meaty oxtails or other beefy meat with bones
  • 3 to 4 pounds beef chuck roast
  • salt and pepper
  • flour for dredging
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, more if needed
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 small celery stalks with leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken or veal stock
  • 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Gremolata (recipe follows)
  • 2 quarts top-quality marinara sauce, or as needed
  • half & half, Parmesan cheese, to finish



  • ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2½ teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 2½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Combine, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour before using.

Makes a scant half cup.

Slow-Braised Bolognese

Click image to enlarge



Pat oxtail pieces and chuck roast dry; season all over with salt and pepper, cover, and set aside for an hour.

Preheat oven to 300ºF with a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Dredge oxtail pieces in flour, shaking off excess.

Melt butter with olive oil in a large oven-proof Dutch oven. When foaming subsides, working in batches if necessary (don’t overcrowd the pan or the oxtails will steam rather than brown,) brown oxtails on all sides. Remove to a platter as oxtails are browned and reserve.

Meanwhile, peel onion and coarsely chop; peel carrot and halve lengthwise (quarter the fattest ends) and cut into ¼ slices; slice celery into ¼-inch slices.

When all oxtails are browned and removed to platter, reduce heat to medium and deglaze pan with a little water if necessary; add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes; do not brown. Coarsely chop the garlic and add to pan; cook until very fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the heat a bit and add the wine; bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. Add the stock and hand shred the tomatoes into the pot, discarding any skin and hard cores; add any tomato juice with tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Cut the chuck roast into 3 to 4 large pieces and add to the pot in a single layer. Nestle browned ox tails among the chuck along with any accumulated juices on the platter, and tuck in rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven. Quickly peek after 25 minutes; if the pot is bubbling vigorously, lower the heat a bit; if it isn’t simmering, raise the heat a bit. Each oven varies in temperature. Continue to braise until meat is very tender and shreds easily, 3 to 4 hours. Carefully remove the meat to a platter and set aside to cool; remove and discard the rosemary and thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Place the Dutch oven over medium heat; skim off and discard any excess fat. Taste and decide if sauce needs to be reduced to intensify flavor and add salt and pepper if needed. Stir about 2 tablespoons of the Gremolata into the mixture and simmer for 5 minutes; taste and adjust again.

When meat is cool enough to handle, shred it finely, discarding fat, bones, and gristle and return to pot, add top quality marinara sauce as desired, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Stir in a tablespoon or two of half & half and Parmesan; serve over hot pasta or polenta and pass additional cheese and remaining Gremolata at the table


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