Italian – Bolognese Sauce (Ragu)

One of my favourites. I tend to (apparently) use an authentic recipe from Bologna but don’t stick to it rigidly 🙂

INGREDIENTS that Italian chefs use see Telegraph.co.uk

  • * 2 tbsp olive oil
  • * 6 rashers of streaky ‘pancetta’ bacon, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Stick of celery
  • 1kg lean minced beef
  • * 2 large glasses of red wine
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • * 2 fresh or dried bay leaves salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • * 800g-1kg dried tagliatelle
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Those starred are what I change.

INGREDIENTS that I use:-

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil – Olive Oil is OK for cooking temperature below 190 deg C.
  • * 6 rashers of streaky ‘pancetta’ bacon, chopped (I often forget to get this but it does make a difference)
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine. I prefer Red onion.
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 carrots, chopped small or thin slices if small and sweet.
  • 2 Stick of celery or more if finely chopped, don’t forget the leaves!
  • 750g lean minced beef (should get 2 meals for 2 people)
  • * 2 large glasses of red wine – what a waste – just drink it! 🙂
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • Dried parsley, Basil, Rosemary (to taste)  Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 beef stock cube.
  • teaspoon of horse radish.
  •  400g dried tagliatelle for 4 people  (I mostly use penne) (Interesting article about pasta shapes and suitable sauce)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve

METHOD – I use.

I start by making a soffritto which is basically a slow fried base for a lot of Tuscan recipes. In this case; add the oil to a frying pan along with the finely chopped celery, onion and carrot and cook on a low heat until soft, some people might find cooking to a golden colour works for them as it can create a host of different flavours. see Maillard reaction.

While the soffritto is cooking, use a separate pan and start to “brown” the meat. I quite often don’t bother with browning as it can sometimes make the minced beef tough. Most often I just brown one side, leaving most of the mince “raw”.

Add the finely chopped or crushed garlic along with herbs of your choice parsley, basil, rosemary, to the soffritto but try not overpower it with too much herbs, continue cooking for a few minutes to let the flavours infuse.

Combine the meat & soffritto, give it a good stir, then add the tomatoes.

Leave to simmer for at least 90 mins. I tend to simmer it for several hours, giving the occasional stir.

The PASTA bit.

Italians would apparently never think about using Spaghetti with ragu, they would use tagliatelle or penne. I recently learned that the Italians cook and drain the pasta and then ADD it to the sauce and cook for few more minutes. To be honest, this makes SO MUCH difference because the pasta absorbs the flavours of the sauce. Trust me you’ll never want a pile of bland pasta with a lovely ragu at the side / on top of it again. If you’re using penne, the tubes get filled with the sauce and pasta suddenly becomes tasty!