Looking for an easy pasta dish that tastes even better than what you can get in a restaurant? This lightly creamy tomato sauce is packed with ground pork and pancetta and served over tagliatelle. Pork Bolognese will become a part of your regular meal rotation!
Do you have any staple dishes in your house? Things you make over and over again? Meals that are suitable for any occasion? Food that you could practically make with your eyes closed?
One of my favorite things to do is to take those beloved dishes and put little spins on them. Once you have a dish down, you can do so many things to make them your own.
We absolutely love beef bolognese in our house, but did you know you can make bolognese with any type of meat you have on hand? We happened to have extra ground pork in our freezer, so I decided to make an all pork bolognese.
This pasta dish involves ground pork AND pancetta and is a delicious option for anyone who doesn't eat beef or anyone who simply loves pork.
🍝 What is bolognese?
Bolognese is a slowly cooked meat-based sauce, typically made with ground beef, tomato, soffritto (an aromatic mix of diced onions, carrots, and celery), herbs, and milk. It often has pancetta in it as well, and is typically served over a thicker pasta noodle like tagliatelle.
But really, you can make bolognese with any kind of meat and noodle you want. I've seen recipes for chicken bolognese and sausage bolognese. And now I'm sharing one with you for pork bolognese.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
Bolognese used to be a dish I only ordered in restaurants. Until I realized how easy it is to make at home.
It does require some time chopping vegetables and simmering, but otherwise, it's a very simple dish to make. And it can obviously be customized however you want!
Bolognese is great for serving to a crowd and also makes for fabulous leftovers.
The ingredient list for pork bolognese isn't super short, but most of the items are fresh vegetables, meat, and herbs and there's nothing too out of the ordinary. Here's everything you need to make the dish (see recipe card below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions):
- Olive oil
- Diced pancetta
- Celery stalks
- Ground pork
- Tomato paste
- Dry red wine (can substitute with beef broth)
- Whole peeled tomatoes (I recommend San Marzano)
- Fresh thyme
- Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
- Whole milk
- Salt and pepper
- Tagliatelle (or thick pasta of your choice)
- Parmesan (for serving)
- Basil (for serving)
👩🍳 How to make pork bolognese
As I mentioned, the process for making this dinner is super easy! Of course, you'll have to start by chopping your onion, carrots, and celery and mincing your garlic.
Dice your pancetta if you need to, as well. I like to buy the pancetta that comes already diced.
Now, add olive oil to a dutch oven or deep saucepan over medium heat.
Add pancetta, onion, carrot, and celery and cook until they're beginning to soften and brown, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
Add pork to saucepan and cook while breaking up with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes, until meat is starting to brown.
Add wine and using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce.
Stir in tomato paste and cook for one minute.
Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you do. Stir in the thyme and parmesan rind, if using.
Bring mixture to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Cover the saucepan and let simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is nice and thick.
I love that this needs so long to simmer because I can take the time to clean up my kitchen and make salad, garlic bread, dessert, etc.
When the sauce is almost done simmering, be sure to cook your pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook tagliatelle (or pasta of your choice) according to package directions. Drain.
Once the pork bolognese is done simmering, remove the parmesan rind and thyme sprigs.
Stir the milk in and and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
Taste sauce and add salt and pepper according to your tastes (I usually add 1 tsp of each).
Serve the pork bolognese over the pasta.
I highly recommend you top the pasta with chopped basil and grated parmesan. I always add some red pepper flakes, too, since we like a bit of heat in our family!
And you're ready to serve and enjoy!
This pork bolognese is absolutely packed with flavor with the perfect amount of decadence. It has a really nice creaminess to it thanks to the addition of milk, but you certainly wouldn't describe it as a cream sauce.
I love the sauce served over tagliatelle, but if you're low-carb or don't love pasta, you can eat the pork bolognese sauce all on its own or even atop a salad or riced cauliflower.
This is my ideal meal for a quiet Sunday evening when I'm happy to let the sauce simmer for a couple hours and fill my home with delicious smells.
🥗 What to serve with
I actually think this pork bolognese makes a wonderful meal all on its own. But I, of course, have to recommend serving it with some sides! My favorite sides are a nice fresh garden salad (or Caesar if you prefer) and garlic bread. Here are some additional ideas:
- Chipotle Kale Caesar Salad
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad
- Lemon Pepper Asparagus
- Kale and Quinoa Salad
- Baked Zucchini Chips
- Chopped Kale Salad with Pistachio Dressing
- Homemade Garlic Bread (from Grandbaby cakes- my very favorite recipe!)
- Italian Salad (from The Modern Proper)
🥩 Can I make this with beef or chicken?
Yes! Once you have the basic bolognese process down, you can make this with any kind of meat you want.
Try bolognese with ground beef, ground chicken, or even sausage. Make it with whatever you have on hand or whatever your favorite protein is.
And if you you're a vegetarian or want to make this for a meat-free dinner, you can use plant-based meat or leave the meat out all together for a simple tasty tomato-based sauce.
🥘 More easy pasta dishes
If this pork bolognese has you craving even more pasta dishes that are easy to make at home, check out some of my other favorite recipes:
- Lemon Pepper Pasta with Shrimp
- Steak and Shrimp Scampi
- Pasta Puttanesca with Sausage
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta
- Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Mozzarella
- Caesar Salad Pasta
- Baked Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Basil, and Mustard
- Pasta with Green Vegetables, Herbs, and Feta
To be honest, I could easy pasta every night of the week... And I love that there are so many ways to take it from summer to winter and everything in between!
Pork bolognese could be considered a winter comfort food dish or a summer dinner party entree. No matter when you make it, you're going to absolutely love it!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 oz diced pancetta
- 1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 large celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
- 2 lbs ground pork
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine (If you don't have red wine, you can substitute with beef broth)
- 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (I recommend San Marzano)
- 4 sprigs thyme
- Parmesan cheese rind, optional
- 1 cup whole milk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 16 oz. tagliatelle (or thick pasta of your choice)
- Grated parmesan, for serving
- Chopped basil, for serving
- Add olive oil to a dutch oven or deep saucepan over medium heat.
- When hot, add pancetta, onion, carrot, and celery and cook until they're beginning to soften and brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
- Add pork to saucepan and cook while breaking up with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes, until meat is starting to brown.
- Add wine and using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce.
- Stir in tomato paste and cook for one minute.
- Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you do. Stir in the thyme and parmesan rind, if using. Bring mixture to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Cover the saucepan and let simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until sauce is nice and thick.
- When sauce is almost done cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook tagliatelle (or pasta of your choice) according to package directions. Drain.
- Remove parmesan rind and thyme sprigs. Stir the milk in and and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper according to your tastes (I usually add 1 tsp of each).
- Serve the pork bolognese over the pasta. Top with grated parmesan and chopped basil, if desired.