Food & Drink

Chef Kristen Essig’s Big-Batch Bolognese

The house Bolognese sauce at Thalia, NOLA’s newest neighborhood joint, is an old-school, comforting recipe—as at-home on noodles as it is on nachos

Photo: Courtesy of Thalia

At Thalia, the new New Orleans restaurant from the team behind Coquette, the house Bolognese recipe is one chef Kristen Essig developed over time, in her own home. She’s fond of cooking it for loved ones. The sauce makes a much more thoughtful gift than a bottle of wine, and Essig always has small batches waiting in her freezer. It’s rustic, hearty, comforting, and caloric. At Thalia, she serves it over house-made gemelli. 

“It’s perfect atop pasta, but you can also serve it with rice with an egg or over spätzle,” she offers. “You could certainly put this on top of nachos. It’s fantastic to batch in large quantities,” she says, “because it freezes so well. You can then take portions over when someone has a new baby or has lost a loved one. It’s comfort food at its finest, and I hope it’s going to become a favorite at Thalia for our regulars.”


  • Makes 9 quarts

  • For the meat mixture:

    • 3 lb. pork shoulder, roughly cubed

    • 4 lb. boneless chicken thighs, roughly cubed

    • 10 cloves garlic, chopped

    • 5 medium onions, chopped

    • 4 medium carrots, chopped

    • 3 sprigs rosemary, stripped

    • 6 sprigs marjoram or oregano, stripped

    • 9 sprigs thyme, stripped

  • For the sauce:

    • ½ cup of oil, blended (3 parts canola, 1 part extra virgin olive oil)

    • 6 cups milk

    • 6 cups white wine

    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    • 36 oz. tomato paste (6 6-oz. cans)

    • 12 cups chicken stock

    • 4 medium carrots, chopped

    • 5 celery stalks, chopped

    • 2 medium onions, chopped

    • 2 lb. ground beef

    • 4 oz. chicken livers, pureed


  1. For the meat mixture:

    Toss together the pork, chicken thighs, garlic, onion, carrot, rosemary, marjoram or oregano, and thyme leaves in a mixing bowl. Combine well.

  2. Using the grinder attachment on a stand mixer, fitted with a medium plate, grind all ingredients together. (Note: Alternatively, you can buy pre-ground chicken thighs and ground pork and pulse with the vegetables and herbs in a food processor.)

  3. For the sauce:

    Add the oil to a large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the ground meat and vegetable mixture. Stir often to avoid burning. Cook through. 

  4. Add the milk and reduce heat to simmer. Stirring occasionally, reduce by three-fourths. This should take approximately 25 to 30 minutes. 

  5. Add the white wine and reduce again by three-fourths, for another 15 to 20 minutes. Season well with the salt and pepper.

  6. Add tomato paste. Cook down for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  7. Add the chicken stock, chopped carrot, celery, onion, ground beef and liver puree. Cook until almost all the chicken stock has been absorbed. Taste for seasoning, and adjust accordingly.

  8. Chill properly, label, date and refrigerate.

Recipe from chef Kristen Essig of Thalia in New Orleans