beef · italian

Gnocchi Bolonese

There’s something extra special about comfort food.

Whether it’s a big batch of macaroni cheese, a slice of warm apple pie, or your favorite potato chip…comfort food will always help you out in bad, sad, or good times.

The ultimate Italian comfort food is Bolonese. The slow-cooked meat sauce hits the spot whenever you need it. It may take a few hours to make, but it’s well worth it in the end.

My bolonese is pretty similar to the traditional one except for one caveat: there’s no celery. Celery is the bane of my existence and one of the only foods I will NOT eat, so I leave it out. Am I missing out on extra flavor? I don’t think so. Onions give mirepoix or holy trinity’s their flavor.

Pro-tip for the best bolonese: slow cook it. Really, really slow. You want to set your burner down to almost the lowest setting so you only see a stray bubble here and there. You do not want the sauce to simmer for an hour—you want it lower than that.

Another tip for the best bolonese: use white wine. It sounds strange with a tomato-ish based sauce, but there really isn’t a lot of tomato in this sauce as some other versions would have you believe.

If you’re wanting a bowl of comfort food this weekend, I recommend eating this bolonese on top of gnocchi. It’s homey, warm, and absolutely filling.


Gnocchi Bolonese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

The ultimate Italian comfort food paired with gnocchi to make a delightful dinner.


  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2 carrots, minced
  • 3 TBS. olive oil
  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • Salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 lb. gnocchi


  1. Pulse onion and carrots in a food processor to make them finely chopped.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add beef and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, but not breaking meat apart too much, until crisp and browned (but not fully cooked). Transfer meat to a bowl.
  3. Add bacon to pot and cook until crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Add onion and carrots to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft, about 6-8 minutes.
  4. Return beef to pot and pour in wine. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until wine is reduced by more than half, about 12-15 minutes, smashing down meat as it cooks until it’s in little pieces.
  5. Add tomato paste, bay leaf and nutmeg. Cook until tomato paste is slightly darkened, about 5 minutes.
  6. Pour in chicken broth and milk and add a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. There should be no rapid bubbles, just a few bubbles at a time.
  7. Cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain.
  8. Discard bay leaf and serve bolonese on top of cooked gnocchi.

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