What is Ragù Bolognese?
Ragù Bolognese is a beautiful, slow-cooked sauce made from ground beef and/or pork, chopped carrots, onion, celery, milk, wine, tomato paste and stock. No garlic. Except I added garlic!
Ragù Bolognese uses milk, white wine and notably less tomatoes. The milk tenderizes the meat and mellows out any tart, acidic notes. The flavor is soft, light and slightly sweet! That’s the selling point.
For the Sauce
- 2 tbsp. (30 g) unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil
- 2 oz. (60 g) diced pancetta
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stick
- 1/2 lb. (250 g) ground beef, about 80% fat
- 1/2 lb. (250 g) ground pork
- 1 cup (236 ml) whole milk
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 dried bay leaf or 2 fresh
- 1 cup (236 ml) dry white wine
- Heaping 1/4 cup (60–70 g) tomato paste
- 1–2 cups (236– 472 ml) quality chicken stock
- 1 lb. Pasta of choice I chose rigatoni
- Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
- In a heavy bottom pot (a Dutch oven is perfect) warm the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat.
- Meanwhile, chop the pancetta, onion, carrot and celery in a food processor. The texture should resemble a smooth paste which will melt into the sauce. No large chunks.
- Add the chopped pancetta and veggie mixture to the pot. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden. Feel free to add more oil or butter as needed, if the mixture seems dry.
- Add the ground beef and pork. Use a fork to mash the meats together. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook just until the meat looses its pink color; do not brown. This will keep the texture of the meat soft.
- Add the milk, nutmeg and bay leaf. Simmer until almost evaporated, up to 20 minutes (or more) depending on the size of the pot and how much liquid is released from the meat.
- Pour in the wine; simmer until almost evaporated. Add the tomato paste; stir to dissolve. Add 1 cup of stock. Stir well.
- Reduce the heat to low. Cook the sauce, with the lid ajar, for about 1-2 hours. The sauce should just “blip” about and not boil rapidly. Low and slow is key for a melt in your mouth texture. Do not rush the cooking process. If, at any point the liquid is reducing too quickly, add more stock or tomatoes as needed. Sometimes I add more tomato paste for color. The final sauce should look similar to chili. Skim away any fat from the surface and season with salt, if needed.
- For the pasta: bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously. Add the pasta noodles and cook until soft and al dente, 3-7 minutes depending on thickness. Taste for doneness. Make sure to to stir occasionally so the pasta doesn’t stick together. When finished, use tongs to transfer the pasta directly into the sauce, adding an additional pat of butter for flavor. Serve with Parmesan cheese.