You Can Cook Too – The True Bolognese Ragù

Patricia shows you how to how make Bolognese Ragù, but not the one you’ve made a thousand times before or can buy in a can. This is the original, authentic Bolognese Ragù, using the original recipe held in the town hall of Bologna. It’s creamy, aromatic, and after making it you’ll understand why the bolognese you’ve made before doesn’t deserve to be capitalised when written about and this version does.

She pairs it Opus 4, Sonata 5 in A minor by Arcangelo Corelli.


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/794g) 
diced tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes
1 cup (250 ml) 
beef broth

To serve
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
pappardelletagliatellelinguine, or spaghetti
Fresh basil leaves (optional)


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 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.

Add the white wine into the saucepan. 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.

Add the milk, tomatoes, beef broth, remaining salt (1/2 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.

Reheat the sauce, if needed. Add 1 generous tablespoon (15 ml) of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano per serving straight into the sauce, stirring to melt and incorporate the cheese. For example, if reheating enough sauce to serve 4 people, add 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup/60 ml) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to the sauce. This addition will boost the flavour of the sauce and produce an incredibly creamy result.

Cook the pasta of your choice according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Add the sauce and stir, until tongs, to evenly distribute the sauce and coat the pasta with it. Divide between warm bowls. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired, and more Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste.

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