Turkey Bolognese

What is Turkey Bolognese?

Bolognese is an Italian sauce used with wider-shaped pasta and Ragu sauces with spaghetti pasta. The logic behind this thinking is that the Bolognese sauce blends and absorbs better with the wider pasta. The sauce came from a place in Italy canned Bologna, hence the name Bolognese. Bolognese sauce is eaten with a flat type of pasta. Bolognese sauce can be defined as a sauce made and some form of meat to enrich its taste and flavor. The result is a thick sauce that is then used with the wider pasta. In Italian, it is called the Ragù alla bolognese.

Bolognese with cheese @Pexels

Because the sauce is prepared first and then added to the pasts, you can make it in bulk and store it for use during the right occasions for a pasta dinner. Meat is a special ingredient in this sauce, and since the final consistency is that of a thick sauce, the meat has to be finely ground. It is common to use Turkey, Pork, or Beef while preparing Bologna Sauce.

Turkey Bolognese – The Recipe

The recipe for Bolognese Sauce is simple, but just that it takes a lot of time and effort. It is one of those dishes that are cooked very slowly over few hours to enrich their flavors and bring about that exquisite taste.

Turkey Bolognese Ingredients

Our recipe is an adaption of Marcella Hazan’s recipe, which is very famous and widely accepted to be the norm. Before we start to make the sauce, let us make a list of the ingredients. 

  • Chopped Onions
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Bay leaf
  • Nutmeg
  • Water
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Turkey – ground meat

Turkey Bolognese – The cooking process 

Follow the steps given below in detail to cook the dish to perfection.

Step 1

Take a non-stick pan as the cooking will go for a longer duration. Pour virgin olive oil and add the onions to it. Cook the onions first on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes and wait till they start sweating. Then add the carrots and celery. Let all the mixture sweat for a few minutes and keep stirring so that they get evenly cooked.

Step 2

Add the ground turkey meat. Spread the meat evenly in the pan and break the meat into fine parts so that they all get cooked evenly. Let it cook for about 3-4 minutes over medium flame.

Step 3

Add whole milk to the mixture and stir it so that it mixes with all the ingredients. Keep stirring till the milk boils and bubbles away.

Step 4

Now add some red wine and even let that boil and bubble away completely. Now you are getting slowly to a thick consistency paste.

Step 5

Add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook with the rest until you see the tomato bubbles. Now is the time to reduce the flame to very dim simmer. To get that exquisite taste, you have to cook it uncovered for around 3 hours.

Step 6

While it is still on simmer, do keep an eye out to check it before it runs completely dry and starts burning away at the bottom of the pan. This will spoil the sauce. So watch out and before that happens pour in half a cup of water every time it becomes very thick. Adding more water at a time will also spoil it. So control the amount of water. It is important to cook it really slowly and at the minimum flame setting for 3 hours. This step is crucial in the entire process and decides if the final Bolognese Sauce preparation is top-class or completely spoiled. It is not really a difficult process. Just that it takes a lot of time and patience.

To serve it, take drained pasta (any form of long or wide pasts) on a plate along with parmesan cheese. Pour the sauce over the pasta and cheese. That’s it. Enjoy the dish and relish the taste.

A shortcut to the main recipe

If you are lazy or lost for a time, we also have an even quicker recipe for you. While the original taste is exquisite and unbeatable, you can still get away with the shortcut recipe and still relish the dish. People will notice, but I am sure they won’t mind. Our shortcut includes the marina sauce which is basically a tomato sauce with few other ingredients. To properly make the dish, it’s important to understand the marinara sauce first.

Marina Sauce

Marina sauce is made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a few seasonings. Marinara sauce is very close to spaghetti sauce in ingredients, just that spaghetti sauce includes the meat and few other vegetables. So the marinara sauce is almost exactly the same base that we prepare for the Bolognese sauce, just that there is no meat. Ideally, when you are short of time, you can use the marinara sauce and then add the meat. Let us see how it is done.

  • Shred the carrots and diced onions. Sautee onions then add carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add meat and Sautee it for the next couple of minutes until the color completely changes and gets cooked in the oil.
  • Finally, add marinara sauce to the mix, and let it simmer for 20-30mins on a very low flame. Your sauce will be ready to serve on the flat pasta along with some cheese.

This will give a taste that’s close to the original dish, will be quick and without much hassle. I am sure you will love this one too.

Some pro-level tips to make it even better

  • Cut or dice all the vegetables in similar sizes so that they can all cook evenly.
  • The Traditional Bolognese recipe does not use beef broth. Red wine is the preferred way to go. You can try using meat broth, but the one which includes the wine tastes better.
  • Any dish that has a healthy dose of tomatoes will have an acidic quality. Depending on the brand of tomatoes you purchase and their acidic levels, be prepared to use a little bit of sugar to counterbalance the acidity. This will balance the taste.
  • Use salt carefully as parmesan cheese has salt as well as the other ingredients. Also, all the mixture is reduced to a sauce with a thick consistency.
  • You can alternate between using milk and heavy cream and see the difference. Adaptations and experiments are ok as long as they do not completely alter the main recipe. You can also try the same with pork and beef instead of ground turkey.
  • Do taste it to make sure the salt and sugar levels are fine.

I am sure these pro-level tips will make a world of difference in your cooking. 

How to store the preparation for Turkey Bolognese?

Turkey Bolognese is one of the best dishes out there, and everyone in the family will love it. It is healthy, nutritious, and delicious. You can precook the sauce over the weekend or whenever you find enough time.

You can store it in an air-tight container in the fridge for the next couple of nights or even freeze it at your convenience. To use it, just let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight or de-freeze it completely outdoors and either microwave it or heat it in the pan before using it.


We recommend you try the recipe both ways to understand the process and taste the results. I am sure you will love the traditional way of cooking the Turkey Bolognese but still keep the shortcut handy for those times when you are tied up. 

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