Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce is a classic Italian pasta dish with a meaty bolognese sauce, here made in the slow cooker with a wine pairing.
Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

Wine Pairing: Pira Dolcetto D’Alba 2014

By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

This month, for Wine Pairing Weekend, my blogging friends and I are discussing wines that go with your favorite comfort foods. I decided one of the types of recipes that really spells comfort for me is pasta with bolognese sauce.

The sauce itself comes from  Northern Italy from it’s namesake Bologna, in the Emilia-Romagna region. The grapes from the wine, though also from Northern Italy, come from the northwest in the Piedmont region,  closer to Turin. So the reason I selected this wine is not because of the region.

The dolcetto wine is grown from black Italian grapes, and the wine has a tannic character that is also dry, yet fruity and lower in acidity. It is possible the grapes were originally brought from France, which further helped me to decide. My last wine pairing recipe was a French ragout. In essence, the dolcetto is perfect as a pairing with riggies.

Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

This recipe is also a ragu but of the Italian type, so I definitely wanted an Italian wine.

Usually this sauce is served with broad flat pastas such as tagliatelle or fettuccini, but is also occasionally served with round types of pasta such as penne, or in my case, rigatoni.

The other unusual thing about the sauce is that it has more of a French flair. There’s no garlic and seasonings are thyme and bay instead of the usual Italian herbs such as oregano, basil, or fennel. I have seen other chefs use the Italian herbs (as well as garlic) but I have to defer to Marcella Hazan as the authority, and she didn’t use it in hers.

The classic French mirepoix is also used as a flavor building foundation (carrot, celery, onion) along with an Italian thought of added peppers for a gentle spice.  The wine serves to round out the flavors as a whole.

And while you might think the flavors will be missing something, you will discover after braising it in the crockpot for a few hours that the aromas are right, and once plated, the flavors are dead-on.

Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce
Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

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Total Time 5 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6


  • 1 Slow Cooker or Crock Pot


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground veal
  • 8 ounces bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 42 ounces crushed canned Italian tomatoes
  • 1 pound dry rigatoni noodles
  • Parmesan cheese


  • Heat oil in a large skillet and saute the onion, pepper, celery, carrots, mushrooms, bay leaves and thyme until vegetables soften, then place in the crock of your slow cooker.
  • Add ground meats to the empty pan and season with salt and pepper,  cooking until  browned and crumbly; add to crock.
  • Add red wine to the crock along with the vinegar, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes; stir.
  • Cover crock and cook on high for 4-6 hours or until meat is very tender; remove bay leaves.
  • Boil rigatoni in salted water according to package directions, then drain.
  • Toss cooked pasta with sauce and serve garnished with grated Parmesan cheese.


From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Rigatoni with Bolognese Sauce

Wine Pairing Weekend 

Comfort Foods

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This months wines paired with comfort foods:

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8 responses

  1. This sounds very wonderful, something I’d love to serve to my family. Thank you for sharing your perspective on the elements that build the flavor. I was surprised to read there is no garlic!

    Delish! Thank you for this pairing.

  2. Count me as another fan of Marcella Hazan’s! Her Classic Italian Cookbook was one of the first I bought, many years ago, and it has never disappointed. Love that you paired your dish with a Dolcetto – I absolutely love those wines and think they’re so compatible with food. Great #winePW post!

  3. Although I have never made one, I have great appreciation for a good Bolognese. This sounds delicious and easy to do. I may have to give it a try. Your wine choice sounds spot on as well. Nice pairing!

  4. I appreciate the twists you made to the classic Bolognese sauce to make it unique. I also love the idea of making it in a crock pot. I did not know that was possible. I MUST give this a try, with a wonderful big Italian red, of course.

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