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Ragù Bolognese: Italian Bolognese Sauce

From the kitchen of Food Nouveau.

Makes 12 servings.
This rich, authentic Bolognese Sauce is based on a registered Italian recipe for Ragù Bolognese. This meat-centric sauce is completely different from the bright red, tomato-based North American version of the sauce: it’s creamy, aromatic, and surprisingly delicate in flavor. Italian Bolognese Sauce produces a simply unforgettable pasta dish!


  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) butter
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 4 small, or 2 large, carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup (250 ml) diced pancetta (about 4.5 oz/125 g)
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt, or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2.2 lb (1 kg) lean ground meat (beef, veal, or a combination)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine (such as Chardonnay)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) whole (3.25%) or partly skimmed (2%) milk
  • 1 can (28 oz/794 g) diced tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250 ml) beef broth

To serve
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Dried pappardelle, tagliatelle, linguine, or spaghetti
Fresh basil leaves (optional)


  1. In a large pot set over medium heat, add the butter and the oil and stir until the butter is melted. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and half of the salt (½ tsp/2 ml) and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft. Add the diced pancetta and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the pancetta is golden and crisp.
  2. Add a third of the ground meat, stirring and breaking lumps with a wooden spoon between each addition. Adding the meat gradually allows the excess water and liquid to evaporate, which is key for the meat to caramelize properly. Once the meat is cooked, add a third more of the meat, stirring and breaking lumps as you go. Repeat with the remaining meat. When the meat is cooked and no lumps remain, set a timer to 10 minutes and keep cooking the meat, stirring from time to time. You want the meat to caramelize and even become crispy in spots. Golden bits of meat will stick to the bottom of the pot, which you will deglaze with white wine later. Watch over the pan at all times as you don’t want the meat to burn.
  3. Add the white wine into the sauce pan. With a wooden spoon, scrape all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Push the meat all around to make sure you scrape it all off. By the time you’re finished, the wine will be evaporated (2 to 3 minutes). Be careful not to let the meat stick to the pot again—lower the heat if necessary.
  4. Add the milk, tomatoes, beef broth, remaining salt (½ tsp/2 ml) and a generous grinding of black pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower to the lowest heat setting. Half-cover and simmer gently for 2.5 to 3 hours, setting yourself a timer to give the sauce a stir every half hour. Start monitoring the texture of the sauce after 2 hours: the sauce is ready when it’s thick like oatmeal. It should look rich and creamy, and no liquid should separate from the sauce when you push the sauce to one side. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Published by kath on