Just about every region of Italy has it’s own version of a Ragu, a slow cooked meat sauce, but perhaps the most famous is from the city of Bologna in Emilia-Romagna, Ragu alla Bolognese. Where in other areas, especially in Southern Italy, the Ragu typically starts with large cuts of meat which are cooked slowly in a tomato based sauce until they become tender, Bolognese Sauce is made using ground meat. Here I use even parts beef and pork, but it can also be done using all beef or I have even used a combination of beef, pork and veal.
Bolognese is traditionally served over fresh pasta, such as tagliatelle, fettuccine or pappardelle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use dried pasta if you want or don’t have fresh available. Sometimes I like to use Rigatoni, the ridges do a nice job of grabbing on to the sauce. That’s the great thing about cooking for yourself in your own kitchen, you can do whatever works for you.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped coarsely
- 1–1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck
- 1–1/2 pounds ground pork
- 1 cup beef broth, hot
- 1 35oz can of imported whole Italian tomatoes, passed through a food mill
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 pound fresh tagliatelle pasta
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
- In a large deep sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, cook stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add the pancetta and cook until the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes. Then add the ground beef pork, turn heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally until meat is browned, about 15 minutes.
- Pour in the beef broth and stir making sure to scrape in any browned bits of meat that are sticking to the bottom or sides of the pan. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and season with salt and pepper. Let come to a boil, lower the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be thick with very little liquid left.
- Stir in the cream (if using) and simmer for 5 minutes. Bring a pot of generously salted water to a boil, add the tagliatelle and cook until al dente. Strain pasta, toss with the bolognese sauce in a large bowl and serve.
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