There is nothing better than a bowl of classic and authentic Italian Ragu Bolognese! Use a mix of beef and pork, plenty of thick beef stock, and just enough tomato to bring it together for a rich sauce ready to cling to your pasta and keep you warm on chilly nights.
Fall is definitely here and it’s time for us to dive into another Italian classic.
However, like pizza, bolognese is so popular there are endless variations. Lots of tomato, using different meats, using no meat (lots of lentil ragus out there!), and so on. Riffing on recipes and making variations is lots of fun, while also supporting lots of food blogs and cookbooks 😉 ; however it’s good to get back to basics and see where all the fuss started, don’t you think?
And I guarantee this is a recipe to love! Millions of Italians can’t be wrong. At least not about food.
What do you need?
- Ground Beef – To keep the sauce from being too heavy, use a leaner package (like 90%).
- Pancetta – A package of diced. Or use thick cut bacon if you can’t find pancetta.
- Vegetables – Onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. All diced.
- Milk – Whole milk to tenderize the meat.
- Wine – Use a basic red or white without much tannin or oak.
- Stock – You will need either a bone broth or a mix of stock and gelatin.
- Tomatoes – A good spoonful of tomato paste and some pureed tomatoes (passata).
- Seasonings – Anchovy for umami and a couple of bay leaves.
How to make this
To make ragu Bolognese saute the meats and vegetables, then simmer with milk, wine, stock, and tomatoes until the sauce is thick and rich.
1. Saute the Pancetta
Start by browning and rendering the pancetta until it’s a little crispy. Then transfer it to a plate.
2. Saute the Vegetables
Now saute and soften the diced vegetables in the fat from the pancetta until soft.
3. Brown the Meat
Add the meat to the pan and brown it while breaking it up with your spoon. Once the meat is mostly cooked, add in the tomato paste and saute in the pan for a minute.
4. Add Milk and Wine
First add the milk and simmer it down for about 10 minutes. Then add the wine and simmer that for 10 minutes.
5. Add Stock and Tomatoes
Mix in the stock, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Bring the sauce to a boil and then let it simmer on low heat for at least 2 hours.
Serve over pasta or polenta. Top with basil and/or parmesan.
If you try my recipe, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Stay Safe, Annemarie
Authentic Italian Ragu Bolognese
- 10 oz diced pancetta
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 large stalk celery, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic. minced
- 2 lb ground beef, or a mix of beef and pork
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup white or red wine
- 12-16 oz pureed tomatoes
- 2 tsp anchovy paste
- 2 cups beef bone broth
- 2 bay leaves
- In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, saute the pancetta until well browned and the fat is rendered, 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the pancetta to a bowl, leaving the fat behind.
- Drain out all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Lower the heat and gently saute the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add ground beef and saute until you no longer see much pink. Then push it to one side and add in the tomato paste. Saute 1-2 minutes. Return the pancetta to the pot.
- Add the milk and bring to a boil over high heat. Bring the heat down so milk simmers and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add wine. Once again bring to a boil then lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes.
- Now add in the tomato, anchovy, broth, and bay leaves. Bring the heat back up to a boil and down to low to simmer gently for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, or until the sauce is thick and rich.
- Ground Beef: I prefer using a 90% lean package or the sauce gets heavy. Alternatively, make the sauce ahead, chill it, and skim off the fat.
- Tomatoes: This should be a meat forward sauce so just use enough tomatoes give it some body without the sauce becoming tomato based.
- Beef Broth: If you can’t find bone broth, use beef stock plus 1 ounce of gelatin. Sprinkle the gelatin over the stock and let it sit for about 10 minutes to soften.