Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Bolognese Ragout

Bolognese Ragout or Ragù, we mean a minced beef and pork meat sauce with the addition of Pancetta, cooked slowly over low heat at least for 3 hours in tomato sauce. It’s 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’, 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 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.


Serves: 4 | Preparation time: 30 mins | Cooking time: 3 to 4 hours

  • Minced beef: 250 g
  • Minced pork: 150 g
  • Unsmoked Pancetta (Pork belly) : 100 g
  • Carrots: 1
  • Celery: 1 stalk
  • Onions: 1
  • Meat broth: 250 ml
  • Tomato Sauce: 500 ml
  • Tomato Paste: 2 tablespoons
  • White or Red wine, a glass
  • Milk, whole: a glass
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): 2 tbsp
  • Unsalted butter: 20 g
  • Salt and pepper: to taste

Method

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

Start making soffritto: finely chop the carrots, celery and onions. Set aside. Dice pancetta. Heat up 2 tbsp of Evoo and butter in a pot, add soffritto and stir-fry for about 10 minutes, stirring them constantly to make sure they don’t burn. Add pancetta and cook for a further 5 minutes umtil crisp. Add both beef and pork minced meat and cook for another 10 mins 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 along with tomato paste, stirring with a wooden spoon to amalgamate. Bring to the boil, cover partially with a lid, stirring from time to time and whilst the sauce is still cooking, pour in the milk and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook for at least 3 hours or even 4.

Tip: Some people like to add the milk only at the end of cooking 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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