simple bolognese sauce

happy fall ya’ll!

okay, fine.

technically it’s not officially fall yet, but as soon as the september calendar rolls out, my kelly brain thinks fall has arrived in all it’s pumpkin-picking, soup-spooning, boots + sweaters glory.

so to celebrate the official kelly launch of fall, i am sharing with you one of my favorite cool weather comfort dishes.

{classic bolognese} a few steps to the perfect comfort dish! bonus- your kitchen will smell amazing!

a stick-to-your-ribs classic bolognese!

what is it? how’d it get it’s fun name?

very simple! bolognese is a meat-based sauce originating from bologna, italy!

never had it? never heard of it?

well, let me enlighten you with the simple idea of it – some dishes are edible hugs + bolognese is one of ‘em!

{classic bolognese} a few steps to the perfect comfort dish!_

although this recipe takes a few hours, it only takes a handful of steps at the beginning to help build big, gorgeous, complex flavor.

taking the time to layer these flavors will result in a homemade sauce that is sure to blow your pasta night out of the park!

our layering starts with browning a glorious meat trifecta of beef, pork + pancetta. we then start the classic sweat down of carrots, celery + onion in a pad of butter + add minced garlic {6 cloves of it!} to amp up the richness. then, as the san marzano crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme + red wine start to join in on the action, your kitchen will smell heavenly!

let’s just say, if you weren’t planning on hosting a pasta party then make sure your windows are closed! because any whiff of this amazing sauce stewing away will bring all the boys to the yard.

as the last of the ingredients are mixed up in your pot, you’ll turn the heat down low + let some serious simmer magic happen for two hours of hands-off ‘cooking’ time.


in those two hours, take a load off.

read the internet, do some yoga, drool over the stove + taste test every 4 minutes.

or, even better, julia child famously said to never cook with a wine if it’s not suitable for drinking – pour yourself a glass of red + do all of the above until it’s bolognese-serving time!

{classic bolognese} the perfect comfort dish!_

when the sauce has transformed into a thick, smooth sauce – the pasta ball is in your court!

boil up some pappardelle – al dente, of course. or hey! get a little crazy + spirialize some parsnips for a veggie alternative to pasta thats perfect for a lower-carb option!

wanna know another AMAZING pasta/life choice you could make? whip and nea nea up some lasagna! i know. i know. that option seems a bit time-aggressive BUT it’s really just a few minutes of layering love! plus. hopefully that bottle of red you choose was the 750mL kind, so really you’ve got all sorts of time! 😉

no matter how you serve this sauce up – you’ll be so glad you did!

the thing i love most about it, is that every comforting bite tastes like home to me. but even if bolognese wasn’t part of your growing up journey, i am sure something home cooked with classic ingredients + a few hours of love, sure was!

so i think you’ll find an edible hug in your bowl too!


simple bolognese sauce
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground beef
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground pork
  • 4oz pancetta, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled + finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine {such as an italian chianti}
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 28oz canned crushed tomatoes {san marzano is the best brand!}
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen string
  • 1 parmigiano-reggiano cheese rind
  • kosher salt + pepper, to taste
for serving:
  • pasta, such as al dente fettuccine, tagliatelle or pappardelle
  • grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • minced fresh parsley
  1. heat a large heavy-bottomed pot/dutch oven, over medium-high heat. add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  2. add the ground beef + pork, and season with salt + pepper. cook, stirring occasionally, until browned {about 12 minutes}.
  3. transfer the meat mixture to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. add the pancetta to the pot + cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp {about 7 minutes}
  5. transfer the pancetta to a separate paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  6. reduce the heat to medium + add the butter. add the onion, carrots + celery, cook until soft + translucent {about 8 minutes}
  7. then, add the garlic +cook, stirring, until fragrant {about 1 minute}
  8. stir in the tomato paste + cook for 2 minutes then add the wine + simmer until almost evaporated {about 5 minutes}
  9. add the heavy cream, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme bundle + cheese rind. stir until combined, then add in the meats.
  10. bring the mix to a simmer then partially cover + reduce to a low heat. cook until the sauce thickens {about 2 hours}
  11. before serving, discard bay leaves, thyme bundle + cheese rind from the bolognese. season to taste with additional salt + pepper.
  12. serve with pasta, minced parsley + grated parmigiano-reggiano. enjoy!


can’t get your hands on pancetta? bacon can be substituted!


red wine for serving: choose a bright, fruity italian red like sangiovese.

tiny leftovers

this recipe should yield 9 cups of sauce. my best suggestion for keeping anything leftover is to freeze it -in dinner-portions!- in ziploc baggies. then, when needed, just defrost in the fridge or reheat in a pot on the stove for a quick meal!


roasted red peppers

as you may know by now, tomatoes creep me out.

when i started to cook, i noticed that tomatoes were part of the recipe party more often than not so i had to come up with a good substitution.

let’s talk roasted red peppers.

roasted red pepperwhile i know that roasted red peppers + tomatoes are in fact NOT interchangeable on the taste scale – one is much sweeter, one packs much more acidity – to my tomato-hating tastebuds convinced me that they looked nearly the same + that was good enough for me!

plus! i love roasted red peppers just as much as the food community loves tomatoes – so i knew with this mindset, i would get to indulge in their sweetness more often!

while i will admit to often buying the jarred kind from the grocery store, i recently learned how to roast them at home + let me tell ya – unless there are no red peppers in the house {rare occasion} then i’m never going back to the jar! they are just too simple to do yourself!

patience is key while making them! be sure to let them roast for the FULL time + be sure to let them REST for the full time as well – cheating the system by just a few minutes could mean they won’t peel like they should + then you’d have to start all over! and you thought onions were the only veggie to make to cry!

learning to roast red peppers at home is a great basic to bang out on your meal prep day or a night when you’re making dinner + don’t need the oven – talk about double tasking you kitchen maven, you!

once the peppers are seeded + peeled, cut them how you desire + store in a mason jar with a bit of olive oil in the bottom! martha tells me they will last up to one month refrigerated, and i don’t know about you, but in marthas word i trust!

roasted red peppers
  • 4 red bell peppers
  1. preheat your oven to 500º
  2. place red bell peppers on a jelly roll pan
  3. roast, undisturbed, for 25 minutes
  4. remove to a large bowl + cover with saran wrap. allow to cool for 20 minutes, until cool enough to handle.
  5. remove skin + seeds from the peppers.
  6. store in an airtight container for up 1 month in the fridge!


dill pickles

would you believe me if i told you that i didn’t care for pickles?

IMG_451429674to most of you, this is simply crazy talk. pickles are idolized in a deli lunch. but it wasn’t until a few years ago that i really came around to the beloved pickle. in my naïve eyes, pickles were salt bombs + i always left it behind for a lunch mate to take as their own.

the younger kelly also didn’t drink bloody marys. and pickles are definitely the mvp of that situation.IMG_451434494here are two fun, very important, facts about pickles that turned me around:

1) turns out, pickles were served on the side with sandwiches because the acidity of the vinegar works as a palate cleanser. the sharp tang of dill + sour lets you taste the rest of the flavors more clearly.

2) pickles are known around the bar scene as a hangover cure. why you ask? salt is recommended for hangovers, sugar can bring up your low blood sugar levels + vinegar is essentially a wake-up juice!

IMG_451840361while the condiment companies you find in your grocery store really have pickles figured out, making them at home is pretty crafty + cheap! if you’re like me, you’ve been bit by the mason jar bug, so grab a few that you have lying around, slice up some cukes from the farmers market + mix together a zesty recipe like this! lunch guests will think you’re like SO Martha + that bloody mary you have every sunday morning, will get a homemade kick in the pants.

you won’t find me hovering over an open jar of the delicious snacks but i will open a can of passion on you if you try to tell me pickles are lame. anything that heightens a sandwich experience + chases a hangover is edible gold in my book!

dill pickles
Prep time
Total time
  • 2 unpeeled hothouse cucumbers, halved + quartered
  • 3 cups rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  1. Combine the vinegar, water, honey, pepper flakes, peppercorns, coriander, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin + salt in a medium non-reactive saucepan over high heat.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and let sit until cooled to room temperature.
  4. Add the dill and cilantro.
  5. Place the cucumber in a sealable container, such as a mason jar + pour the cooled vinegar mixture over them.
  6. Refrigerate, covered for 24 hours or up to 4 days.
slightly adapted from the guru, Bobby Flay.


how to: poach chicken

learn the basics in cooking.

repeat after me: learn the basics in cooking.

one basic that i hold near + dear is how to poach a chicken breast. lemme tell ya why.

shredded chicken poach

back in chicago, AJ + I lived across the street (we’re talking 20 steps here people) from a lovely neighborhood grocery store, potash brothers. whenever we had a late day at work we would double park out front (i promised to be honest along this blog journey. case in point) + run in for a handful of groceries to make dinner. i would spend the whole car ride home conjuring up a dinner plan + on those super late nights, using a rotisserie chicken for our dinner was a classic go-to move.

i would confidently walk into the store, armed with my dinner plan + more times than i’d like to admit, i would encounter an empty rotisserie section. if you have yet to experience this turmoil, let me tell ya, when you are still sporting your learning-to-cook-sea-legs + are armed with ONE plan, something as simple as losing one ingredient stops all brain function.

and stopping brain function only translates to one thing in the kelly flynn world – epic pouting. so in a situation like this i could then be found nearly stomping my pouty little self over to the pasta aisle, looking to the heavens + wailing that kraft mac-n-cheese was the ONLY solvent to my no-shredded-chicken problem.

what do you think happened next? maybe i came to my sense + didn’t plan on rotisserie next time? of course not! logic isn’t welcome in a stressed person’s brain. maybe i would learn that potash didn’t stock nearly enough rotisserie birds as the community called for? nope! i went through the whole situation sometimes just days apart!

i’ll tell ya what i did. i finally learned how to say no to the mac-and-cheese problem solving method + learned how to get my hands on shredded chicken – without the pesky rotisserie section!

enter: poaching chicken breast.

you can use poached chicken in the recipes you’d use store-bought rotisserie chicken. the advantage of poached chicken is that it’s lower in sodium + is likely more moist than a chicken that’s been sitting under a heating lamp for a few hours at the grocery store. that my friends, is what we call a win-win.

your poaching liquid can be as simple as plain water. admittedly, this doesn’t add flavor, but your chicken will be succulent + tender! wanna up the flavor antee? all your poaching liquid needs is some aromatics – fresh or dried herbs, chopped veggies or smashed garlic! you can also swap out the H2O for chicken broth, white wine (#sold), fruit juices, coconut milk – let your hair down + get wild, pretty much anything goes!

here are a few combinations to get your creative juices (PUNS!) flowing:

As Basic As Martha: carrots, celery, lemons, parsley + black peppercorns.

Asian Zest: fresh sliced ginger, red pepper flakes + smashed garlic.

A Trip to Provence: thyme, basil, bay leaf + orange zest.

Mexican Flair: sliced lime, coriander seeds, cilantro + dried chiles.

now go on! poach yourself some chicken + give yourself a big ole pat on the back. you, my friend, have just learned a basic!

poached chicken
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: basic
  • boneless skinless chicken breast
  • water {or other poaching liquid. see post}
  1. arrange the chicken in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. if using aromatics, place over top.
  2. cover the chicken with water/poaching liquid. pour in enough cool water to cover the chicken by an inch.
  3. place the pot over medium-high heat + bring to a boil.
  4. reduce to a simmer, cover + cook for about 8-10 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breast.
  5. remove the chicken from the poaching liquid + place it on a cutting board to cut, shred or slice.
lesson learned from the kitchn.