Ragù alla Bolognese (Pappardelle Bolognese) – or simply Bolognese sauce – is one of the most famous meat-based sauces from Italy. This recipe surely requires patience because the sauce is slowly simmering for hours. But the final result will not disappoint you. So please make a large batch of this ultimately hearty and rich sauce that will be perfect to enjoy this winter.Jump to Recipe
Hey folks, how are you doing? I hope this week has been treating you well, and you are having a wonderful and well-deserved weekend. And if your winter weather does not make you feel like spending a lot of time outside (like here in Nova Scotia where we has had more than 30 cm of snow this Saturday…and more than another 20 cm is expected on Sunday), then you should spend a few hours in the kitchen making a Ragù alla Bolognese. In my humble opinion, it is one of the best comfort foods that you can enjoy in winter. If it is cold, snowy, or gloomy outside, this recipe is a must. While simmering the ragù, your kitchen will smell amazing and so cozy.
Last winter we were trying a lot of pasta sauces. And while I have many pasta recipes on my blog, I wanted to focus on something more authentic. And when I look for an authentic method (not necessarily full recipe) from Italian cooking, Frank’s blog is always a perfect answer to me. I have already shared this Sicilian Style Pasta with Cauliflower and Pasta alla Genovese.
Ragù alla Bolognese (Pappardelle Bolognese)
And now it is time for Bolognese sauce. Well, definitely, I have made it many times, and I think all these previous times, it already turned more less authentic. But again, I wanted it this way without “more or less”. And I know myself – I like to sneak into an original pasta recipe something that should not be in here, most often herbs or spices. Nope, this time I wanted to be a good student and follow the steps accordingly.
To make this sauce, you will start with a soffritto – an aromatic mixture consisting of finely chipped onion, celery, carrot, and pancetta. Wine and tomato pure are equally important while milk is optional. And you should have some water or light broth just in case the sauce gets a bit dry. When you are choosing meat, it should not be lean. Traditional recipe uses beef only, but you can always equal parts of beef and pork, if your beef is too lean. You can also use veal, too. Please be sure to check similar recipes with veal – Veal Ragù Pasta and Veal Orzo.
And spices and herbs? Salt and black pepper. Some variations include nutmeg. But that’s it! Disclaimer: that bay leaf you can see in the photos, was used for décor purposes only :)
What Pasta Shape to Use with Bolognese?
Fun fact. I was going to serve this sauce with tagliatelle – probably the most common shape of pasta to serve with Bolognese. But when was choosing pasta in the store, I accidentally bought pappardelle instead. Pappardelle has wide, flat shape and rough surface which makes them perfect for a hearty meat sauce. There are other pasts shapes that will pair beautifully. However, you should not use spaghettis for pairing with Bolognese; they do not work well with a chunky meat sauce.
The authentic sauce should be simmering for hours. At least 2 but better 4-6 hours. This time I was simmering it for more than 4 hours, and the result was wonderful. The good think about this that you do not need to babysit the sauce; just give it a good stir every now and then. And of course, you can make it a few days in advance. Indeed, the flavour will continue to develop once cooked and resting.
This is a large batch that will be enough for about 450-500 gr. of uncooked pasta. There is no reason to cut the recipe in half, if you not planning to utilize it all with pasta. After all, it is a time-consuming recipe, so why not make a larger batch and enjoy for a couple of days? Also, while I have not done that myself, google says Bolognese sauce freezes really well.
If you like to read a more detailed profile on Bolognese sauce, please check this post Ragù alla bolognese (Bolognese Sauce) – Memorie di Angelina
I hope you like this Ragù alla Bolognese (Pappardelle Bolognese), and you will give it a try shortly. If you make it, let me know in this post or send me an Instagram message or share your photos adding the hashtag #havocinthekitchen.
Ragù alla Bolognese (Pappardelle Bolognese)Course: MainCuisine: Italian
3-4hours or longer
Ragù alla Bolognese (Pappardelle Bolognese) – or simply Bolognese sauce – is one of the most famous meat-based sauces from Italy. Made with aromatic soffritto, wine, and tomatoes, this is a quintessential comfort winter food. This sauce will be enough for 450-500 gr. pasta, so if you need dinner for 2-3 folks, you should roughly divide the sauce in half and reserve the leftovers for another recipe.
2 tbsp. (30 ml.) olive oil
2 tbsp. (30 gr.) butter
1 small-medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 celery stalk
100 gr. pancetta
225 gr. ground beef (see notes)
225 gr. ground pork
1/2 cup (120 ml.) dry red or white wine (I used red)
1/2 cup (120 ml.) milk (if using) or broth;
1/2 cup (120 ml.) to 1 cup (240 ml.) if not using milk of beef broth; keep another 1/2 cup or so of broth or water – in case the liquid has evaporated a lot
1 cup (225 gr.) puréed tomatoes / passata (see notes)
1/2 tsp. salt or more, to taste
1/4 tsp. freshly grated black pepper or more, to taste
about 450 gr. of pasta such as pappardelle (in this recipe) or tagliatelle
finely grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven
- Chop the onion, carrot and celery into small dice. Slice and chop the pancetta into small strips or dice.
- To make a soffritto, place a pot or Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the oil, butter, vegetables and pancetta and sauté gently, stirring regularly until softened and aromatic, about 10 minutes.
- Once the soffritto is done, add the ground meat. Stir constantly breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon or spatula; cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the meat(s) is no longer pink.
- Add the milk, if using and allow it to evaporate (if not using, proceed to the step 5)
- Pour in the dry wine and allow it to completely evaporate.
- Stir in the pureed tomatoes / passata as well as the broth. Season with the salt and pepper..
- Turn the heat down very low, place the lid on and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours – preferably up to 4-6 hours (I simmered about 4 hours). Check periodically to adjust the temperature; it should be just simmering not boiling. If the sauce becomes too dry add a little extra broth or even water. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary.
- You can make this sauce 1-2 days ahead. In fact, its rich flavour will develop even stronger if let the Bolognese stay a night before serving. Please note that this recipe is enough for 450-500 gr. pasta (4-5 servings). If you are making pasta for 2-3 people, remove the excess of the sauce and reserve for another recipe.
- To cook pasta, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt well. Add in the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, until al dente.
- When done, drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Transfer the pasta to the sauce, gently mix to combine, for a minute. Serve sprinkled with parmesan and if desired, with a few extra ground peps. Enjoy!
- You can use beef only, but it should not be too lean. If you only have lean beef on hand, it is better to combine it with ground pork.
- You can use tomato paste instead of pureed tomatoes/passata, but it will need to reduce the amount to 2-3 tablespoons (otherwise its acidity will disbalance the flavour.) Since paste does not have as much liquid as passata, you will need to incorporate more broth or water.
Hi – I’m Ben, a blogger, recipe developer, and food photographer. I’m glad you’re here! I hope you will enjoy hundreds of delicious recipes and a pinch of havoc in the kitchen.