Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Bolognese Ragout

This ragout is perfect for tagliatelle, gnocchi or lasagna, but also on its own: dip a fresh slice of bread in it or use it to clean up the plate – it’s called ‘scarpetta’, literally ‘little shoe’, and it’s one of those small treats to be treasured.

Each family has its own lore and recipe for a good bolognese ragout – but rest assured, no Italian grandma would ever put cream into it! Simple whole milk will do the trick and give you a smooth, round sauce.

The traditional recipe for the bolognese ragout, which you will find below, has been filed at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna on the 17th October, 1982.

Would you like to know more about the different ragouts you can find in Italy? Head over to our article: Ragout: That Very Italian Braised Meat Sauce with a French Name

Serves: 4 | Preparation time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 3-4 h

  • Minced beef: 250 g
  • Minced pork: 150 g
  • Pork belly: 80 g
  • Carrots: 50 g
  • Celery: 50 g
  • Onions: 50 g
  • Meat stock: 500 ml
  • Tomato sauce: 250 ml
  • White wine, fry: 150 ml
  • Milk, whole: 40 ml
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): 2 tbsp
  • (optional) Basil, fresh: to taste
  • Salt and pepper: to taste


Tip: Traditionally, this ragout has been prepared into earthenware pots – but a normal pot will work just as well.

Finely chop the carrots, celery and onions. Set them aside. Cut the pork belly into small cubes.

Heat up the oil in a pot, then stir-fry the vegetables for about 10 minutes, stirring them constantly to make sure they don’t burn. Add the pork belly and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the minced beef and pork and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the meat has dried out.

Turn up the heat, pour in the wine and leave it to simmer over high heat, until the wine has completely evaporated.

Tip: Make sure to turn up the heat, or the wine will take too long to evaporate and its taste will overpower the meat’s.

Turn down the heat, add the tomato sauce and one or two ladles of stock. Cover partially with a lid and cook for at least 3 hours, stirring from time to time. Whilst the sauce is cooking, pour in the milk and season to taste.

After the first 3 hours, cook the sauce depending on how liquid you’d like it to be: a ragout for tagliatelle will have to be rather dry, whilst a lasagna will need a more liquid sauce.

Tip: Some people like to add the milk only at the end, once the sauce is removed from the stove. Try it out in both versions and choose what you prefer!

You can prepare this ragout in advance and then warm it up when needed. Keep it in the fridge, covered with clingfilm, for a maximum of 3 days.

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