Ragu alla bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese

Ragu alla bolognese is prob one of the most traditional pasta recipes out there, what’s really nice about this recipe is that it still translate so well into todays living (specially with some of the improvements you’ll see bellow). The basic bolognese sauce is a meat centric pasta sauce with the minimal addition of milk, wine and a few vegetables (carrot and celery), which cook over low heat for 3-4 hours till the pasta magic happen. Today I’ll like to share with you both the traditional ragu alla bolognese recipe which have been passed in my family for generations. along with the bolognese 2.0 version which is a modern take on the classic that include an improvement in the vegetables ratio as well as in the flavor extraction strategy. even though I grew up eating the traditional bolognese version (which I still have a lot of heart for), I find the modern bolognese sauce version to be superior in flavor and easier in labor. the truth is that the modern version is actually an instant classic.

Cooking policy

The main difference between the traditional bolognese sauce and the bolognese 2.0 version is with the flavoring method and the amount of vegetables involve, while in the classic ragu everything cooks together for a long time, the modern version start with extracting the most flavor of each ingredient separately and build on top of it as you advance through the recipe. While all of the goes on the dish become less meat centric and more balanced to modern days diet with the addition of real or can diced tomatoes it is also easier to keep the dish moist and with enough liquid while it cooks, I tend to find the tomatoes flavor to really bring it all together without really taking it into ‘red sauce’ land.

Leftover policy

What I really love about making a bolognese sauce is that it keeps so well, in fact you can freeze it for up to 6 weeks, and whenever you are ready for some pasta action, heat it up and serve with your favorite fresh pasta. This is also a great dish for a lunch leftover in the office, even if you have to microwave it it will still taste great, I recommend adding a splash of milk if you do, so it will keep the sauce and pasta moist.

Pasta policy

Spaghetti bolognese is one of the most popular variation on this dish, but don’t let that limit you, I find that you can serve bolognese sauce with almost any type of pasta cut, from gnocchi to pappardelle or fettuccine, it’s your pasta and now it’s time that you’ll own it.

 Here it is 20 min of bringing the classic into life:

The traditional ragu alla bolognese recipe

Ragu alla bolognese

Saffron fettuccine with bolognese sauce

 

Ragu alla Bolognese

Serves 8
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 4 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 4 hours, 55 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Gourmet
Region Italian

Ingredients

  • 2lb Ground meat (I like to use a combination of veal, beef and pork)
  • 0.5lb Unsmoked Pancetta (or bacon) (Cut into small cubes (one that will be nice to bite))
  • 5 Celery Ribs (Cut in small rings)
  • 5 Carrots (Finley chopped)
  • 2 medium Onions (Finely chopped)
  • 60g Tomato paste ((tripled concentrated))
  • 1 glass Wine (Red or white)
  • 360ml Milk

Directions

Step 1
In a large pot heat a little olive oil (regular) and place the pancetta - let it cook for around 5-8 min (don't put too much oil in the pot to begin with since the pancetta will extract a lot of fat as well)
Step 2
Add the onion and let cook for another 7-10 min till they get nice and translucent
Step 3
Mix in the carrot and celery and cook for another 7-10 min
Step 4
Once the vegetales are cooked, add the ground meat to the mix and cook till it gets lightly colored (don't over cook - this still has a long way to go)
Step 5
Add the tomato paste and wine and mix so it absorbs well
Step 6
Slowly incorporate the milk into the dish while keep mixing
Step 7
Season with salt and pepper, bring to boil - turn the heat to very low so the dish start to slowly simmer and cook for 3-4 hours
Step 8
Make sure to check on the ragu every once in a while (specially in the beginning) you want to see that it does not get dehydrated or burned at the bottom, so give it a nice mix when you walk by it
Step 9
After 3 - 4 hours your ragu should be ready to serve, taste it and see.

Bolognese 2.0 Recipe

Ragu alla Bolognese 2.0

Serves 8
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 5 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Region Italian

Ingredients

  • 2lb Ground meat (I like to use a combination of veal, beef and pork)
  • 0.5lb Unsmoked pancetta (or bacon) (cut into bite size cubes (or smaller))
  • 5 Celery ribs (cut into small rings)
  • 5 Carrots (Finely chopped)
  • 2 medium Onions (Finely chopped)
  • 6 Garlic cloves (Finely chopped)
  • 1 Shallot (Finely chopped)
  • 1 can Diced tomatoes (if you have nice fresh tomatoes feel free to substitute)
  • 60g Tomato paste (Tripple concentrated)
  • 1 glass Wine (Red or white)
  • 360ml Milk
  • 3 Bay leafs
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh oregano
  • 4 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 dash Pepper flakes ((peperoncino))

Directions

Step 1
Heat a little olive oil (not extra version) in a large pot (you wont need a lot of oil since the pancetta will extract a lot of fat as well.
Step 2
Saute the pancetta in the pot for 6-9 min till it gets nice and semi-crispy (if using bacon you may need to lower the time on this step)
Step 3
Add the onions and shallot to the pot and let cook till they get translucent (about 7-10 min), don't undercook the onions - this is a crucial phase in building flavor, it's worth to let them cook an extra 2-3 min so they adopt the right flavor.
Step 4
Mix in the garlic cook for another 3 min.
Step 5
Its time to incorporate the greens to your bolognese, add the carrot and celery and let cook for another 12 min, feel free to taste one of the celery rings to see if they get to the right flavor, if not let them work for additional 3-5 min and taste again.
Step 6
At this point when the vegetables are ready add the meat to the pot and keep mixing to separate it (rather than having a layer of burger on top of your bolognese), let the meat cook for a few min until it gets lightly colories. Don't over cock the meat, remember the dish has quite a lot of cooking time ahead of it.
Step 7
Add the tomato paste and wine and mix well so it all absorbs in the bolognese sauce.
Step 8
Mix in the diced tomatoes and let cook for 3-5 min,
Step 9
Slowly start to incorporate the milk into the sauce while keep mixing, again you want the milk to reach most areas of your bolognese.
Step 10
Add the fresh oregano, bay leafs, red pepper flakes and cinnamon sticks and mix again.
Step 11
Bring the bolognese to boil and reduce the heat to very low so it just lightly simmer.
Step 12
At this point you can keep cooking between 40min to 4 hours, whatever you choose it is important that you'll check on your bolognese every 10-20 min or so, see that it doesn't get dehydrated (if so add more milk), that the meat doesn't get too dry or burned at the bottom of your pot.
Step 13
Once your dish is ready, taste again (season with salt if needed), and your bolognese sauce is ready to be eaten with your favorite pasta

 

The pasta

Check out how to make fettuccine bolognese out of this bolognese sauce.

 

2 thoughts on “Ragu alla bolognese

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