Traditional recipes

Spaghetti with Ragù alla Bolognese

Spaghetti with Ragù alla Bolognese

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This is the classic ragù of Bologna, the city where I was born and raised. This ragù, however, is also terrific over rigatoni, penne, and spaghetti.


  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1⁄3 cup onion, minced
  • 1⁄3 cup carrot, minced
  • 1⁄3 cup celery, minced
  • 2 ounces pancetta, minced
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Purée the tomatoes and their juices through a food mill or in a blender until smooth. Set aside.

Place 4 tablespoons of the butter in a wide-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the onion, carrot, and celery and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add the pancetta, veal, pork, and beef. Raise the heat to high and stir until the meat has a golden color, about 8-10 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add the wine and cook, stirring until mostly evaporated, about 4-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring from time to time, until sauce has a medium-thick consistency, 1 ½-2 hours. Add the milk and simmer 10 minutes longer. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to package directions.

Drain the pasta and place in a large warm serving bowl. Add the remaining butter, half of the ragù, and a small handful of the Parmigiano and quickly toss to combine. Serve at once with more sauce, if needed, and a little more cheese.

Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese: a traditional spaghetti bolognese recipe from a local family

We eat wonderfully well in Italy, especially in Bologna. That is probably why we had to go back and show Miss M Bologna during our last visit to Italy. Of course, for our readers, we had to recommend that you take a cooking class when you are in Bologna with your kids. And when it came to sharing our recipe for Bologna, it had to be a traditional spaghetti bolognese recipe &ndash or spaghetti with meat sauce the way the people of Bologna make it.

The Real Spaghetti alla Bolognese

According to Rick Stein on one of his long weekend trips, the good people of Bologna do not take kindly to what the rest of us call Spaghetti Bolognese – indeed in one of my earlier posts is a recipe for this very dish which I now understand should be called Ragu Bolognese.

This dish is in fact a very simple pasta dish of tuna and tomato which is served traditionally on a Friday as a fish dish. This is a little different but really tasty and is a great pantry staple standby when you come home from work and want a nice meal quickly. The recipe serves four.

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

400gm can Plum Tomatoes

185gm Tuna, drained and flaked (I have a confession here as I use a larger can of tuna because we like more tuna!)

40gm Parmesan cheese, grated

Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the spaghetti according to instructions and heat the olive oil in a large frypan. Then add the onion and cook for five minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes, sugar and salt and cook until the sauce reduces slightly intensifying the flavour. Add the tuna Flakes and stir through the sauce. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir through.

Serve with the Parmesan and black pepper and a nice glass of wine of course!

Traditional Spaghetti Bolognese sauce (Ragù alla bolognese)

The ragù alla bolognese is probably the king of the meat sauces. As I said in the introduction of another ragù recipe published in this website (My family ragù):

"Italy is divided into 20 regions and almost each one has a very distinct cooking tradition. Hence, I am not surprised that these differences have influenced the way Italians prepare the meat sauce and this is why we have different varieties of it (sometimes the recipe can also vary from town to town within the same province!)"

Well, in Bologna the situation is even worse: substantial differences can be found within the city districts, so, for clarity, it is better I stick to the official recipe deposited in the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna by the " Accademia Italiana della Cucina" in 1982. This way we cannot go wrong!

As an alternative to this rich ragù, also have a look at the &ldquomy family ragù&rdquo recipe (featured in the meat section of the website) it's a simplified version for those who are attempting the ragù recipe for the first time.

The ingredients listed are for 500 g (1 pound 2 ounces ) minced beef. This quantity is enough for topping pasta (personally I think that ragù alla bolognese is at its best with homemade tagliatelle rather than spaghetti) and serving 4-5 persons.

Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 250 g (9 oz) Minced beef
  • 250 g (9 oz) Minced pork (shoulder)
  • 90 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Onion - medium size (finely chopped)
  • 1 Carrot - medium size (finely chopped)
  • 2 Celery stalks with some leaves (finely chopped)
  • 1 Beef stock cube (use this to prepare about 400 ml - 3/4 pint stock)
  • 150 ml (1/4 pint) White wine
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) Sieved tomatoes (passata di pomodoro)
  • 150 ml (1/4 pint) Milk
  • Salt and black ground pepper for seasoning
  • These are Imperial and Metric measurements. U.S measurements available at

Nutrition facts: Calories 650 per serving.

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 9 ounces Minced beef
  • 9 ounces Minced pork (shoulder)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Onion - medium size (finely chopped)
  • 1 Carrot - medium size (finely chopped)
  • 2 Celery stalks with some leaves (finely chopped)
  • 1 Beef stock cube (use this to prepare about 1 3/4 cups stock)
  • 10 tablespoons (5/8 cup) White wine
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) Sieved tomatoes (passata di pomodoro)
  • 10 tablespoons (5/8 cup) Milk
  • Salt and black ground pepper for seasoning

To start, you need two sauté casseroles, one large (about 30 cm - 12" wide) and one medium size (about 22 cm - 8 3/4" wide). Put 45 ml (3 tablespoons) of olive oil in each pan.

Heat the olive oil in the larger pan (medium/high heat). When the oil is hot, put all the mince meat (both beef and pork) into the pan.

Stir with a wooden spatula and at the same time press the meat down in order to break it up. We need to avoid the formation of meat lumps.

Keep stirring and pressing down until all the meat has browned.

Browning the meat could take between 5 and 10 minutes depending on the heat. However, what is important is to give the meat a nice brown colour, but watch you do not burn it.

When you see that the meat cannot cope any longer with the heat (otherwise you risk burning it), add the white wine.

Let the wine evaporate (it will take a couple of minutes). Meanwhile use the wooden spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan so that nothing sticks to the bottom.

Scrape also the side of the pan. Slightly tilting the pan, so that the wine wets the side, will help to remove the substance that sticks to the side (it's all good stuff so we try to put it back into the sauce). After 2 minutes, bring the heat to very low and leave the pan with the meat alone.

While the meat is cooking on a very low heat, heat the olive oil in the second pan (medium/high heat). When the oil is hot, add all the chopped vegetables (onion, carrot and celery) into the pan.

Stir and sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they are soft.

Then, add all the vegetables into the larger pan containing the meat. Put the smaller pan away, from now on all the cooking will be done in the larger pan.

Raise the heat a bit. From very low, bring it to low/medium and stir for few seconds so that the meat and vegetables are evenly distributed.

Then, add the sieved tomatoes and stir.

Season with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.

Stir for few seconds and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

Then, add the hot stock to cover the sauce (my recipe took about 400 ml - 1 3/4 cups). There you go! Now everything is ready for the simmering stage. Bring the heat to very low.

Cover with a lid and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

After 1 hour of simmering, remove the lid and continue simmering for another couple of hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced to the right consistency (having completed the third hour, the sauce should have lost most of the water and should be ready to top the pasta).

Half an hour before the end, season with salt according to taste. I suggest doing the seasoning at this late stage when the sauce has lost most of the water.

Immediately after the seasoning, add the milk.

Stir and continue simmering until you have reached the end of the third hour. Now, since you added the milk, it could be that you need some extra simmering to bring the sauce to the right consistency. Do not be worried about simmering for an extra half an hour or more, if required, because the more you simmer the better.

Finally, we have got the ragù alla bolognese. Now, it is up to you how to use it. You can top pasta, you can use it for lasagne or put part of the sauce in the freezer to use the first time you are in a rush.

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150g beef (gelatinous cuts, including tail if available)

100g bone marrow (already removed from bone)

50g sausage, broken but not ground (optional)

1 bay leaf and 1 sprig rosemary

½ a glass red wine such as sangiovese

3 cups stock (veg, chicken or beef)

1. Prepare a soffritto in a deep and heavy bottomed pan by adding diced onion, carrot and celery to pan warmed with olive oil. Simmer on low for about 15 minutes or until onions are glassy and carrots tender.

2. Melt and crisp pancetta in a separate skillet on medium for about five minutes. Add pancetta to soffritto.

3. Flour the chunks of meat in a bowl or on working surface. Clean pancetta skillet and warm it with olive oil then add the meat. Lightly brown. Add the wine. Raise heat and continue cooking until wine evaporates.

4. Add meat to soffritto and pancetta mix.

5. Clean skillet and brown the bone marrow in a drop of olive oil.

6. Add marrow to soffritto, pancetta and meat mix.

6. Add bay leaf, rosemary, wine and stock.

7. Simmer for 1½ to two hours at a low temperature with wax paper covering and lid. (This keeps the moisture in.)

How do you know it's ready?

The meat should be very tender and falling off the bone. Take off the heat and let cool for half an hour. Take out meat, debone and cut into small pieces. Return meat to ragu. Simmer the ragu uncovered on to low heat until a thick and fragrant sauce forms.

Spaghetti Cetarese

In 1932, the Italian Futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti proposed a revolution in food. Absurdist banquets of idealistic food propelled esoteric dining into the future. Marinetti's vision was not far from the mark if we consider our contemporary tendencies, but back in 1932 the general public overlooked the Futurist Food movement until Marinetti struck a nerve in the Italian identity. The Futurists announced to the public that it was necessary to abolish pastasciutta, the Neapolitan tradition of dried semolina-flour pasta with sauce. One can only imagine how this was received in Naples. The streets filled with protests against the Futurist declarations. In Luce Marinetti's copy of The Futurist Cookbook there are clippings from the Chicago Tribune with the headline 'ITALY MAY DOWN SPAGHETTI'. Italians, and the entire world, divided into two camps: those who believed in the power of pasta to feed, heal and console a hungry population, and those who felt it slowed down a nation and set back progress. According to Marinetti, a French journalist went so far as to declare that pasta was 'the torpor of the masses … the origin of languid sentimentalism, serene irony, amiable indifference, and more'. Next to all the mad banquets and fantastical ideas proposed by Marinetti and the Futurists about cooking, the one that aroused the most resistance was the abolition of spaghetti.

We don't serve spaghetti regularly at Osteria Francescana. We believe our guests will feel cheated because spaghetti is so everyday it is the most common ingredient in the Italian pantry. This dish is an exception to the rule. It is dedicated to the town of Cetara, where so many Italian flavours originate. Cetara is a town on the Amalfi coast between Naples and Salerno. Its name most likely comes from the Latin word cetaria, meaning tuna fishing, orcetari, meaning fishmongers. The fishing village is famous for canned anchovies and tuna, and a Roman seasoning called garum, made with fermented fish, is made there in the form of colatura di alici, an anchovy extract unique to Cetara. The anchovies are pressed under salt. The orange liquid that floats to the surface is placed in glass jars and exposed to full sun to eliminate any excess water and leave only a pure anchovy extract behind. Bountiful and simple, it mirrors the location in which it is made. It's like finding a bottle of sunshine when you reach into a dark cupboard.

The pesto for this spaghetti is made with hand-chopped anchovies, capers, pine nuts, garlic and colatura di alici, but the pesto is only half of it. Without a good-quality spaghetti and a proper cooking technique, this recipe will get you nowhere. We are faithful to no one when it comes to pasta, and we pick and choose from among our favourite producers. The spaghetti must be able to absorb the sauce without losing its bite. The secret is to boil it in salted water until half cooked, then remove it from the water. Add it to a warm pan with 20 drops of colatura di alici, the pesto and enough fish stock to cook it all the way through. Cetarese Spaghetti is the perfect example of the generosity of humble ingredients: with so little you get so much. You just want to keep eating it forever.

30g salted anchovies from Cetara

65g salted capers from Pantelleria

1 teaspoon Villa Manodori extra-virgin olive oil

Clean and debone the anchovies. Chop the pine nuts, capers and anchovies to make a pesto-like mixture. Use a sharp knife, not a blender. It is very important not to crush the ingredients. Add the garlic and olive oil.

Parsley oil

20g Villa Manodori extra-virgin olive oil

Blanch the parsley leaves in salted boiling water for 20 seconds. Chill them immediately in iced water, then pat dry. Put them in a blender with the oil and salt and process to a velvety texture.

Garlic cream

1 head garlic, cloves halved

Remove the heart from each garlic clove. Marinate in half the milk overnight, covered with clingfilm (plastic wrap). Discard the milk and reserve the garlic. Bring the remaining milk to a boil with the sugar and salt. Blanch the garlic for 1 minute in the milk, then remove it. Repeat this twice. Put the garlic in a separate container and use just enough of the milk to blend it to a creamy paste with a hand-held blender.

Crunchy breadcrumbs

200g two-day-old sourdough bread

Villa Manodori extra-virgin olive oil, for frying

Villa Manodori Essenziale red pepper oil

Cut the crusts off the bread. Tear it into small crumbs by hand. Toast the breadcrumbs in a pan with a little olive oil and red pepper oil.

Villa Manodori extra-virgin olive oil

colatura di alici (anchovy extract)

1. For the pesto, clean and debone the anchovies. Chop the pine nuts, capers and anchovies to make a pesto-like mixture. Use a sharp knife, not a blender. It is very important not to crush the ingredients. Add the garlic and olive oil.

2. For the parsley oil, blanch the parsley leaves in salted boiling water for 20 seconds. Chill them immediately in iced water, then pat dry. Put them in a blender with the oil and salt and process to a velvety texture.

3. For the garlic cream, remove the heart from each garlic clove. Marinate in half the milk overnight, covered with clingfilm (plastic wrap). Discard the milk and reserve the garlic. Bring the remaining milk to a boil with the sugar and salt. Blanch the garlic for one minute in the milk, then remove it. Repeat this twice. Put the garlic in a separate container and use just enough of the milk to blend it to a creamy paste with a hand-held blender.

4. For the breadcrumbs, cut the crusts off the bread. Tear it into small crumbs by hand. Toast the breadcrumbs in a pan with a little olive oil and red pepper oil.

5. Put the pasta in a large pan with 10 kilograms salted boiling water until it is half cooked. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pan with the colatura di alici, one tablespoon oil, the garlic cream and one tablespoon pesto. Finish cooking it as if it was a risotto, adding more fish stock and pesto as needed. At the very end, stir in the parsley oil. Top with crunchy breadcrumbs, as if they were grated cheese, and serve.

Recipes appear in Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef by Massimo Bottura available now through Phaidon Press, $79.95.

Reviews ( 21 )

Excellent recipe. A few tweeks - used ground turkey instead of the veal and 24 oz of San Marzo crushed tomatoes. Also, used 2% milk (that's what we drink) and it turned out great. This makes a lot of sauce so count on leftovers or cook for a big crowd.

Delicious! Don't be scared off by the simmer time- although I am sure it tastes better if it simmers longer, I shortened it all significantly and it was still great. Just so long as you totally brown the meat until you get some crispy bits before adding the other ingredients, the shorter simmer times were ok. Some other adjustments: Added 3 cloves crushed garlic and one chopped red pepper to the onion mix, added a tsp of italian seasoning and a tsp sugar once the tomatos were added, and used beer instead of cooking wine (easy substitute in most recipes).

Obviously, this is not a week night meal because of all the simmering time, but well worth the effort on a Sunday. I have also used all grass-fed ground beef (also worth the extra cost at Whole Foods) and red wine instead of white (because that's what I had open) and the results were great. A definite go-to Bolognese recipe!

This was outstanding. I only made three minor changes. I added some minced garlic, used fresh whole wheat fettucini from Whole Foods (so worth the cost!), and added some diced tomatoes (I drained them) b/c I like chunks of tomatoes in my sauce. We added some fresh basil as a garnish and it was delicious. This will be one of my go-to sauces.

This was so good, I had plenty for leftovers the next night too, the whole family loved it. Served with a red leaf salad with cucumber and avocado. Will def. make again!

I've been making this since it was first printed in October 2002- it is our family's favorite bolognese recipe and I come back to it time and time again. We're Italian so we take our pasta seriously, and this just couldn't be better.

YUM! This was so good. I made a few minor tweaks: I added garlic to the vegetable trio. I don't eat veal so I used an equal mix of ground pork and ground round. I used tomato sauce in lieu of puree as I couldn't find puree. I also did not have whole milk on hand so mixed 1% milk with heavy cream (3/4 to 1/4) and it worked well. I prefer paparadelle noodles . and this was a perfect sauce for that! A keeper . will definitely make again.

This was really delicious! I will confess that I left out the celery as we are not big fans of cooked celery, but followed the recipe otherwise. This will become a regular at our house for sure!

Ok, here's the deal: I started making this and realized I did not have whole milk (we drink 1%) so I used 1/2 cup 1% milk and 1/2 cup light cream, as I had that in the fridge and I figured (hoped) that the fat calories would even out between them. The recipe turned out FANTASTIC. it is probably the best sauce I've eaten (and I grew up in an Italian family). I made it a second time and used 1 cup whole milk as the recipe called for and the result was really rather average/nothing to write home about. I will use 1% mile/light cream combination from now on - realize it's probably no longer "light" when made this way, but since we don't eat it every day, why not? It really is an outstanding recipe when made in this manner.

I have been using Cooking Light recipes to make Sunday dinners for me and my husband for almost 3 years, and while we've had some delicious meals, this is the first time I've been compelled to write a review. This sauce is DELICIOUS. We followed the recipe exactly and were rewarded with a decadent, almost buttery, sauce, which we ate with spaghetti squash. It is almost impossible to believe this is a "healthy" recipe. We will definitely be making this again - a double batch (it's a labor of love)! I can't wait to experience this sauce with real pasta.

I double the recipe and freeze it in meal-size portions. I have made it so many times that it has become the go-to meal when we're hungry for something hearty and delicious.

Really fantastic the first night, leftovers were just OK. Next time, I will just cook up extra sauce, then pour over a fresh batch of pasta for leftovers (rather than mixing all together and then reheating).

I'm practically licking my bowl as I eat this dish. My boyfriend and I made this last night - and it is one of those simple but great tasting recipes. A few changes. we used ground lamb instead of the veal and didn't have nutmeg on hand so we skipped that. Also, we didn't' have whole milk either, but used 1/2 cup 1% and 1/2 cup heavy cream. I figured fat/calories wise it might equal out. Will make again, but next time on a weekend! Too much time for a weeknight meal.

Wow, this sauce is phenomenal! I followed the recipe exactly as written and wouldn't change a thing the next time I make it. and there will be many next times. I made the sauce early in the day and let it simmmer for several hours and then rest, and I think that was the key in helping the flavors to develop. Hubby went back for thirds (!) and then started eating the sauce directly out of the pan, declaring, "This stuff is addictive!" I served it with mafaldine pasta (like fettucine with lasagna-type ribbons) that I cooked until al dente and then added to the sauce to cook for a bit, so the noodles were all deliciously coated. I would even go so far as to say that this sauce beats many that I've had in restaurants. Deee-lish!

How to prepare Ragu' alla bolognese

To prepare the Bolognese sauce, first take the pancetta. First cut into slices and then into strips 1 , without being too precise. Then with a knife chop it well 2 . In a pre-heated saucepan pour a drizzle of oil and add the pancetta 3 .

Shell it well 4 and let it brown. In the meantime, take care of the vegetables. Peel the carrot and chop it finely 5 . Then clean the celery and chop it too of the same size as your carrots 6 .

Finally, peel the onion and chop it 7 . As soon as the pancetta is well browned 8 , add the chopped vegetables 9 .

Stir 10 and let simmer for 5-6 minutes 11 . Add the ground beef 12 ,

stir 13 and raise the heat. Let it brown without haste, the meat must seal well. Deglaze with red wine 14 and mix again. As soon as the alcohol has evaporated, add the tomato puree 15 .

Stir and incorporate it 16 17 . Add a couple of ladles of hot vegetable broth 18 .

Cover with the lid, but do not close completely 19 . At this point the Bolognese sauce must cook for at least 2 hours. Check it every 20 minutes and add more broth as needed. After two hours, taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper 20 . Stir again and your sauce will be ready 21 .

Recipe: Bolognese Sauce (Ragù alla Bolognese)

Meat sauce on spaghetti. Meat sauce on ravioli. Meat sauce on veal cutlets. I’d even ask for meat sauce on top of chicken parmesan! Well, I’ve grown up and matured (OK, somewhat). In this article I’ll show you how to make a grown-up version of “meat sauce”–Ragù alla Bolognese.

One of the very first meals we had during our voyage to Italy was Pici al Ragù…a Tuscan version of Spaghetti Bolognese. We had just gotten off the train from Rome in the small Tuscan town of Chiusi Scalo (“Scalo” designates the part of a town that surrounds a railway station). Chiusi proper, a historic Tuscan town with proud roots back to the Etruscans, was up on the nearby hilltop.

We were so weary from having traveled about 16 hours or more, first by air to Rome and then by train from Rome to Chiusi, where we were to pick up our rental car. And at this point we were also famished–needing to re-fuel. When we got off the train, the Hertz office was closed for riposa (a 3-hour siesta), so we had planned to have lunch while we waited. I had already picked out the trattoria that we would eat at, selected weeks before while fine-tuning the details on my Google Earth maps…we would eat our first Italian meal at Trattoria Porsenna, one block from the train station. It was a fantastic choice. With only 12 tables and a casual country style, we ordered a bottle of gassata for the table and waited for our meals. When the Pici al Ragù came, I couldn’t believe how delicious it was.

By the way… Pici is a sort of thick, hand-rolled spaghetti. Ragù is basically a meat sauce, the best of which is Ragù alla Bolognese, which originated in Bologna but is found all over Italy nowadays. People will tell you that “spaghetti Bolognese” doesn’t exist in Italy–but it does. The sauce will just be called “Ragù” instead of “Bolognese”, as in “Spaghetti al Ragù”, and typically in place of spaghetti the dish is usually served with tagliatelle, a long, flat, fresh pasta noodle–“Tagliatelle al Ragù”.

Historic records even prove that in centuries past, spaghetti (dried) was commonly used with a Ragù sauce anyway. (NOTE: In the weeks that followed, we saw “Spaghetti alla Bolognese” listed on many menus). So, whatever the name, and no matter what type of pasta you put under it, I knew that this was the Ragù I wanted to duplicate when I returned back home.


2 pounds ground beef (80% or less fat)
1/4 pound speck (cut 1/4″ thick), 1/4″ dice (Speck is a smoked prosciutto)
1 large Vidalia onion (or 2 large yellow onions)
1 teaspoon sugar (for sauteing onions)
4 tablespoons canola oil (for sauteing)
3 carrots, 1/4″ dice
3 celery stalks, 1/4″ dice
4 garlic cloves, smashed then diced
5 bay leaves (remove after cooking)
1-1/2 tablespoons thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 cup full bodied red wine (Primativo, Montepulciano, Chianti, etc.)
1 28-ounce can Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup heavy cream


  1. Heat 4 tablespoons of canola in a large stock pot, then add the onions, carrots and celery. Sprinkle in the sugar. Saute on medium heat until onions are translucent.
  2. Add the diced Speck and saute for 1 minute, then add the diced garlic. Cook for another minute or two, but don’t burn the garlic.
  3. Add the ground beef and cook on moderate flame, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. You can add the spices at this point… basil, thyme, pepper flakes and bay leaves.
  4. As the meat cooks, turn over the mixture to allow for equal browning and distribution of the spices.
  5. Turn up the flame and add the wine. Using a flat bottom wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan (you want to get up any fond that might have developed). Cook for 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated from the wine.
  6. Turning the flame down to medium, add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, and combine well into the meat/vegetable mixture. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Next, add the heavy cream, mix, then turn the flame down to simmer (use a smaller back burner, or use a heat diffuser plate under your pot).
  8. Simmer, stirring occasionally and cook for 3 hours covered. Then, remove the lid and continue simmering for another hour or until the sauce thickens considerably (making sure the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn). If you feel like your sauce hasn’t thickened enough, you can always use the old Italian Nonna trick…toss in a handful or two of breadcrumbs).

This recipe will make enough Bolognese sauce for several meals. It also freezes very well.

If you would like to make fresh tagliatelle to go with your Bolognese sauce, read Making Fresh Pasta at Home: Not a Necessity, but a Tradition.

Also, try Baked Standing Rigatoni in a Mug. It’s also wonderful spread on a bruschetta for a small lunch or snack.

Recipe Instructions

Firstly, Prepare Soffritto onion, carrot, & celery. Make sure your vegetables are minced very finely.

Secondly, I recommend you to try ground brisket or skirt steak for your meat choice. The tough beefy cut will soften up during the long simmering and offer deep flavor and better texture than ordinary ground beef. Make sure to break it up before you add to the pot.

Cook diced Pancetta in a little butter until crispy.

Add the minced vegetables and cook until they are softened.

Add the beef and cook until they are browned. Splash with either white or red wine and let it evaporate. ( I used red wine this time)

Add the beef stock and tomato paste stir well.

I noticed that many of old-fashioned Italian recipes were using spices in their meaty pasta sauce. Try adding a little bit of nutmeg to your Bolognese sauce. Your sauce will have more depth in the flavor.

I also like to add a small piece of Parmesan rind. It adds richness to the sauce. Cover and simmer for 2 hours stirring occasionally.

Add milk, and simmer for another 30-45 minutes over low heat.

Lastly, add about 1 tbsp of fish sauce. It sounds weird to add Asian style fish sauce to Italian pasta sauce, but the pungent flavor of fish sauce do add a punch to the overall flavor of this meat sauce.

Here is the outcome. The beef is literally melt in your mouth soft but still retains its chewy-able texture that is so pleasant. It is truly the best Ragu Bolognese sauce I have tasted so far.

Served with Tagliatelle, Fettucini, or Pappardelle pasta. All you need is extra Parmesan cheese to complete the dish. Or use it for making Lasagna.

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Recipe

Ragù served over silken egg tagliatelle is one of the signature dishes of Bologna, the food-loving capital city of Emilia-Romagna. In fact, this rich, meaty tomato ragù is so closely associated with Bologna that any dish described as Bolognese will be cloaked in it.

In our recipe, we have given you two options: make your own pasta and ragù following the traditional steps, which typically takes about two hours, or use authentic Emilia-Romagnan products to create an authentic dish in half an hour. However you decide to go, we are sure the dish will transport you to the terracotta rooftops of Bologna with each bite.

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese (Tagliatelle with Bologna-style Ragù)
Recipe courtesy of Eataly

For the pasta:

1 pound egg tagliatelle (use dry or make fresh dough)
Grana Padano DOP cheese, for serving
Coarse sea salt, for pasta water

For the ragù:

Using a producer's traditional ragù:

1½ cups of ragù alla Bolognese
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
1 clove garlic

To make your own sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 small carrot, minced
1 rib celery, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
4 ounces ground veal
4 ounces ground pork
4 ounces ground beef
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup chicken or beef stock
Fine sea salt, to taste

To prepare the ready-made ragù:

In a large skillet, heat the garlic in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. When it becomes fragrant, remove and discard. Add the ragù, and heat over medium until simmering.

To make your own ragù:

In a heavy Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes more.

Crumble the veal, pork, and beef into the pot. Season with fine sea salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat has rendered most of its fat and is just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Spoon out and discard some of the rendered fat, but leave enough to cover the bottom of the pan. (This will depend on the meat you’re using: there may not be an excessive amount of fat.)

Add the wine, and increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated, about 6 minutes.

Decrease the heat to low, add the tomato paste, stir to combine, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the stock and adjust the heat if necessary to reach a gentle simmer. Simmer until the stock has reduced but the sauce is still moist, about 45 minutes longer. Taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and remove from the heat.

To cook the pasta:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. When the water is boiling, salt it with coarse salt and add the pasta. Cook a few minutes less than package instructions if dry or until the pasta rises to the surface if fresh.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, preserving a small amount of the cooking water. Transfer immediately to the saucepan, and toss vigorously to combine and allow the pasta to cook a final minute in the sauce. If needed, add a small amount of the cooking water, to loosen the sauce.

Serve immediately with the grated cheese on the side, and dream of Bologna.


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