Ragù alla Bolognese, not to be confused with Ragú ™, and commonly called Bolognese in the US, is the queen of Italian cuisine. Originally from the Bologna region, it is a staple in Italy’s home cooking and restaurants alike.
Most everyone has their own recipe and variation, but historically back in 17 October 1982, the original recipe was registered at Bologna’s Chamber of Commerce by the Italian Academy of Cuisine, and that is indeed the absolute best recipe there is for flavor, texture and . . . labor of love. Highly recommended as an exercise in culinary achievements and a walk down memory lane of fabulous meals experienced on an Italian vacation.
This is the original recipe – as registered in 1982 – translated into English:
Ingredients (serves 6):
1 lb ground beef
8 oz pancetta, diced
75 grams of carrots, minced
75 grams of red onion, minced
75 grams of celery, minced
1 lb of tomatoes, crushed
100 ml of dry white wine
200 ml of whole milk
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cups of quality (homemade) beef stock, nothing from a can or cardboard, please.
Have the beef stock simmering in a pot.
In a large non-stick skillet, saute the pancetta for 2-3 minutes until the fat is starting to become translucent (do not overcook it).
Add the olive oil, wait a few seconds until it’s hot, and then add the mixture of onion, celery, and carrots, med-low heat for 5-6 minutes (do not overcook it).
Add the ground beef, and sear it stirring continuously, until it’s thoroughly cooked and browned.
Add the wine, and continue stirring until the wine has evaporated completely.
Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer (on low), stirring frequently – and adding the beef stock as needed 1-2 tablespoons at a time – for 1.5 hours.
Add the milk, and continue cooking at a slow simmer for an additional 30 minutes, still adding beef stock as needed.
You should have plenty of beef stock left, do not use the entire 4-5 cups as listed above.
Add salt to taste, but it should be pretty much OK as is since the beef stock will give the ragù enough flavor.
Sources: Accademia Italiana della Cucina
- Now you have a nice batch of ragù, you can serve it on top of virtually any type of pasta you wish, in Bologna the quintessential use is on tagliatelle, but Maltagliati or pappardelle would do; best if fresh pasta.
- Let the ragù rest in the fridge for 24-48 hours for best results. Reheat gently before serving.
- If it is to be used on top of dry pasta, add 100 grams of cream (whipping cream) at the end of the cooking cycle or before reheating.