Spaghetti with pork bolognese has to be one of the all time most comforting foods. It reminds me of Sunday suppers growing up in a large Italian family where everyone would gather at my grandmother’s house for dinner. It has wonderful memories and tastes so good.
Traditionally, bolognese is less of a red sauce and more a meat ragu (ragu alla bolognese) with finely diced carrots, celery, garlic, meat and just a touch of tomatoes (or tomato paste) to hold it all together.
Over the years, after many Italian families arrived here in the U.S., this changed to more of a meat sauce (marinara and meat). This pork bolognese sauce recipe is inspired by the latter because that is what I grew up eating as an Italian American. It is just so delicious!
A bolognese sauce can be made with so many different types of meat and you will usually see it made with ground beef. This pork bolognese sauce recipe is one of my favorite ways to cook a bolognese sauce. Once you try a bolognese with pork, you will know why I love it so much.
With a pork bolognese sauce, there is a more delicate and rich flavor that the pork imparts. To me it tastes more like the all day Sunday sauces so many Italian mothers and grandmothers would make. The only difference is this recipe will not take all day, only about 30 minutes and it achieves the same great flavor as an all day sauce.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do love beef with marinara as well. That is why one of my favorite dishes is pasta with homemade Italian meatballs which is made with beef. It is just for this dish, pork is definitely my favorite.
The ingredients for this pork bolognese sauce are very simple and what you would expect from any homemade red sauce:
- Crushed tomatoes (San Marzano preferably)
- Whole canned tomatoes (San Marzano preferably)
- ground pork
- olive oil
- red pepper flakes
- fresh basil
- dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- A touch of butter (optional)
You can even add your own touches to the ingredients like I did here with the addition of some zoodles (zucchini spiral noodles). It is a great way to add some nutrients to your pasta.
The Best Tomatoes For Your Sauce:
One of the ingredients that is preferable in making this sauce is San Marzano tomatoes. You have probably already heard of these or at least seen them in the grocery store.
True San Marzano tomatoes are those that are imported from Italy. The tomatoes are grown in the San Marzano region of Italy and they do have a much better flavor than many tomatoes that are grown elsewhere. It is my favorite tomato to use for my tomato soup as well!
Some people say this is because of the soil makeup of the San Marzano region. That region is very fertile and located near Mt. Vesuvius where the volcanic activity has helped give a different makeup to the land. These tomatoes have a much sweeter and less bitter flavor.
You will sometimes see people add sugar to their tomatoes and sometimes that may be necessary, especially if you find that your tomatoes are not sweet and too acidic in flavor. Ideally, you want to avoid adding sugar to the sauce and make sure you invest a few extra cents in a better quality tomato!
Getting your tomatoes ready for the sauce:
One of the great ways to make sure you have a smoother sauce is to pour your tomatoes into a large bowl and with your clean hand, reach in to the bowl and gently squeeze each tomato until it falls apart.
Once you have done this, go ahead and reach your hand into the bowl again and take fist fulls of the tomatoes and squeeze them until the tomatoes are completely broken up and there are no large pieces left.
When that is done, you can pour your tomatoes into your pan.
If you are in a rush, you can certainly add your Whole San Marzano tomatoes into the sauce and mash them down while in the pan.
Another tip that I found over the years to make a much better homemade sauce is to slice your garlic really thin; as thin as absolutely possible. Cutting your garlic paper thin does two things.
First it actually helps release the juice in the garlic. The other thing it does is it will infuse into your sauce much easier this way, opposed to just mincing it.
Now, if you are looking to pull off the entire Italian restaurant style dinner to impress the people you are cooking for, then these recipes will help you out
- Olive oil and parmesan bread goes so well with the bolognese and it starts with store bought bread. Even our garlic and tomato rubbed crostini would be great! So easy and always impresses!
- A great side dish would be spinach with crispy pancetta! This is a classic that is always so delicious with a bolognese or as a side for other meals.
- For a quick Italian salad, this spinach and mushroom salad will be a hit. Very simple ingredients and very fresh. This one can act as a vegetable side and a salad.
This bolognese sauce can be doubled to make leftovers or used as a freezer meal for a later time. If you want to freeze the sauce, just let the sauce come to room temperature and then place it in a freezer proof container or bag and place in the freezer for up to a month. Thawing is as simple as placing it in the refrigerator the day before you need to use it and then gently reheat and add to some pasta.
Whatever you decide, I hope you give this bolognese pasta a try and it becomes a favorite in your house like it is in mine!
Spaghetti with Pork Bolognese Sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic sliced as thin as possible Try for almost paper thin if you can making sure to cut the garlic slowly so you do not cut yourself.
- 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 small yellow onion spanish finely chopped
- 2 28 oz cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 tbsp of butter optional
- 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil best quality you can find
- 1 tsp of salt and pepper and more to taste
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 lb dried spaghetti the best quality. I like to use DeCecco brand
- In a large pot over medium heat, add your olive oil, red pepper flakes, onions and garlic and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the onions begin to soften.
- Now add your ground pork and break up into small pieces and brown all the way through.
- Now add your canned whole tomatoes (follow the steps for "how to prepare your tomatoes for the sauce" shown above) or with a potato masher or with a large spoon, begin gently pressing down on the whole tomatoes so they begin to break apart.
- Next, add 1 tbsp of fresh basil, 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of dried oregano and stir well.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and turn down heat down to low and allow to gently simmer for at least 30 minutes.
- Now go ahead and add your tbsp of butter and gently mix that into the sauce. This is optional
- Taste for seasoning and see if it needs any salt.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
- When the water is boiling salt it well and add your spaghetti. Follow the instructions on the box of spaghetti for cooking just to al dente.
- Once the pasta if cooked drain the pasta and place it back into the pot.
- Add 1 ladle of the red sauce to the pasta and mix well to prevent it from sticking to itself.
- You can plate this family style by placing your pasta in a large platter style bowl and scooping out 1-2 ladles of meat sauce over top of the pasta.
- Toss gently together.
- Serve this with the remaining pasta sauce and freshly grated Parmesan on the side.