Ragu' Bolognese
Emilia Romagna
Preparation - Easy, but best with 2 hour cooking time.
Serves 4

There are as many recipes for 'Bolognese' sauce, or ragu' as they call it in Bologna, as there are cooks. This is a simple one that echoes the classic, using tomato paste instead of whole tomatoes, and with the addition of milk/cream.

  • 4 T butter or olive oil, or mixed
  • 4 oz pancetta or unsmoked bacon (weight trimmed of fat), finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 8 oz (1/2 lb) lean ground beef, crumbled into 1/2 teaspoon size
  • 1/3 cup dry red or white wine
  • 1 1/2 T tomato paste or concentrate
  • 1/2 cup meat stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup milk or heavy cream

Simple to make, but best if allowed to simmer for a few hours before serving, or made the day before.

IN a heavy saucepan, heat 1 T the butter/oil with the pancetta/bacon. Fry gently for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the remaining butter/oil, the chopped vegetables. Continue frying over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft (transparent, not browned).

ADD the meat and cook until it just turns color (not browned!!).

ADD the wine, simmer briskly for 2 to 3 minutes until the liquid has almost evaporated.

IN a separate pan, (or in the microwave) warm the stock; dissolve the tomato paste in the stock and add to the pan.

ADD salt and pepper to taste (be careful with salt - the pancetta/bacon and the tomato concentrate are both salty) and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

IN a separate pan, bring the milk to simmering point (about 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave) and add it, just covering the meat. Stir thoroughly and cook, uncovered, over the lowest heat for at least 2 hours; the ragu' should not boil, but just break a frw bubbles on the surface. Taste and adjust seasoning and stir occasionally.

COOK and drain the pasta.

YOU can finish the dish by adding the drained pasta to the sauce in the cooking pot and mixing well, a few spoonsful on individual plates of pasta (illustration), or in mixed in a large, pre-warmed serving bowl.

SERVE with grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese. Great with a fresh tomato salad and French or Italian bread.




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