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Bolognese Meat Sauce (ragu alla bolognese) – Emilia-Romagna, Primo

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Bolognese Meat Sauce (ragu alla bolognese) - Emilia-Romagna, Primo

Author Notes

Bolognese meat sauce is one of the most famous Italian pasta sauces around the world and is loved by young and old alike. Many shortcuts exist using minced/ground meat and cooking for shorter periods of time as do variations such as using more tomato sauce but this is the traditional recipe made by Bolognese grandmothers. This sauce is used to dress pasta, particularly fresh egg pasta and is layered intermittently with béchamel and pasta in lasagna alla bolognese. I make a large batch and freeze individual portions to reheat as needed. Perfect for impromptu children’s meals! —woo wei-duan

  • Serves

  • 1

    onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1

    carrot, washed, peeled, ends cut, and finely chopped

  • 1

    rib of celery, washed, ends cut, and finely chopped

  • 50 grams


  • 50 grams


  • 300 grams

    lean beef (such as flank or arm clod), finely diced (can replace some of the beef with a mixture of veal, fresh sausage, and/or pork)

  • 100 grams


  • 180 milliliters

    red wine

  • 200 milliliters

    tomato puree (passata)

  • 2-4 cups

    meat broth or water

  • 100 grams

    chicken livers, finely chopped

  • 120 milliliters

    milk or cream

  1. In a heavy based sauté pan or dutch oven over low heat, slowly sauté the onion, carrot, celery, and pancetta in the butter until the vegetables are soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. dd the beef and the prosciutto and stir with a wooden spoon until coloured.
  3. Add the wine and turn the heat up to medium.
  4. Cook until it has ⅔ evaporated, about 30 minutes. Then add the tomato, salt, and pepper.
  5. Turn the flame down to as low as possible and put the lid on askew so that steam can escape. Cook slowly, adding a bit of broth whenever the mixture seems to dry and stirring occasionally, for 3 hours.
  6. Add the chicken livers and the milk or cream and continue to slowly cook for 1 more hour.
  7. Add broth or water to keep the mixture from burning or drying out and stirring occasionally. The chopped meat will slowly dissolve into the sauce. When finished add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Note: Omit milk and substitute butter with olive oil for dairy-free.

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