Experimenting with Ragu Bolognese

In the U.S., spaghetti bolognese consists of spaghetti with tomato sauce and ground beef. During my few weeks in Bologna so far, I’ve tried many versions of the original ragu bolognese, the city’s most prized and well-known sauce. Instead of spaghetti, it is served with fresh tagliatelle— long, ribbon-shaped pasta that is made with flour and eggs. Since it is freshly-made, the pasta is especially porous which makes it ideal for soaking up delicious, rich sauces.

I had tagliatelle alla bolognese at Da Silvio, a fantastic restaurant down the street from me, and had cravings for bolognese sauce for the rest of the week. I finally broke down and decided to find a recipe for the dish, and make it myself. After all, I had access to fresh ingredients and the official recipe developed by the Italian Academy of Cuisine Association and the Brotherhood of the Tortellino back in the ’70s, filed with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

– 1 pound Ground Beef
– 1/4 pound Ground Pancetta (or fresh bacon)
– 1 Carrot, finely diced
– 1 rib Celery, finely diced
– 1/2 medium onion, diced
– 4 tablespoons Triple concentrated tomato paste
– 1 cup white or red wine
– 1 cup of whole milk
1 1/2 cups of beef (or other) broth*
– Kosher salt and black pepper
– 1 pound of (fresh) tagliatelle
– 2 tablespoons butter
*my own addition

This is definitely not a low-fat recipe so beware… but it is pretty amazing. I made some slight modifications to the original recipe to make measurement conversions easier. Just make sure that you are not ravenously hungry when you make this, because it is best after two or more hours of simmering.

Preparation:

1. Brown the pancetta in the pan.

2. Add the chopped vegetables and cook until translucent.

3. Add the ground beef and stir until meat is browned. Add about one teaspoon of salt.

4. Add the wine, a little stock, and the tomato paste. I also added a cup of canned whole tomatoes that I broke apart, because I like more tomato in my sauce, though it is not in the original recipe.

5. Let the mixture simmer over medium-low heat for at least two hours, adding the milk and broth as the mixture thickens. Add salt as needed. (I also added a half teaspoon of sugar because I wanted to) The longer it simmers, the more flavorful the sauce will be. By this point, the sauce should be very smooth and should blend together nicely.

6. When the sauce is about 20 minutes from being done, cook the pasta. Fresh pasta should only take a few minutes before it is al-dente. When it is done, drain the pasta.

7. Add the cooked pasta to a saucepan and toss with some butter. Add your preferred amount of sauce.

Final product! With chunkier veggies and tomatoes.šŸ™‚

Although the original recipe does not detail this last part, all restaurants in Bologna actually mix the bolognese sauce with the pasta in a separate saucepan so the sauce is spread evenly and absorbed by the pasta. It is absolutely delicious, so I would recommend it!

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