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

March 25, 2015
4 Ratings
  • Serves 6
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

What You'll Need
  • 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 pancetta
  • 50 grams butter
  • 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 prosciutto
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

1 Review

Gal April 1, 2018
A quick note that tomato puree is NOT Passata!
Passata (or tomato passata, you will also see it spelled passato and passata di pomodoro) comes in tall, carafe-like glass jars. Passata is an uncooked tomato puree that has been strained of seeds and skins.
Passata is different from tomato sauce or tomato paste: Tomato sauce or tomato paste are COOKED tomato products. (Tomato paste is cooked down and much thicker).
Most passatas are just plain uncooked tomatoes, and doesn't have other ingredients. (Tomato sauce for example often has other ingredients such as carrots, onions, garlic, etc).
You would not want to substitute tomato sauce or tomato paste if passata is called for in your recipe.