Ragù alla bolognese

Italians are very proud of their cuisine. And you cannot really blame them since most of it tastes damn good. However they also tend to be a bit neurotic about it. A little sprinkle of parmesan over a pasta dish with fish might ruin your friendship with an Italian. 

Surprisingly enough, they do admit multiple versions of the so famous ragù alla bolognese. The official recipe (link) as registered in 1982 by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina uses ground beef and pancetta only, no ground pork. The recipe also calls for the classical combination of onions, carrots, celery and of course tomato. Additionally, white wine and milk is used, the latter seems weird but is intended to break to acidity of the tomatoes.

My version is a little different, but brought to me by a true Italian.

Here we go, for six big eaters you will need:

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 3 garlic gloves
  • 2 handful of frozen peas
  • 500g mixed ground pork and beef
  • a glass of red wine
  • 8 fresh tomatoes (if in season, otherwise a can of peeled tomatoes)
  • 500-750 g passata
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

1. Sweat off the carrots (in small cubes), the diced onions and the sliced garlic in a heavy pot in some olive oil for a couple of minutes until the onions become translucent.

Sauté the vegetables

2. Add the frozen peas and continue to sauté while stirring occasionally. After around 5 minutes, add the ground meat and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the meat

3. Add salt and pepper and the red wine. Let reduce and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Finally add the peeled and chopped tomatoes and after a few minutes the passata. I like my bolognese quite tomatoey, adjust to your taste. You may also need to add some water.

Finally the tomato

4. Reduce the heat and let the ragù simmer for 60 to 90 minutes at very low heat. The consistency should be quite thick, add some water throughout the cooking if needed. Adjust for salt and pepper at the end.


The ragù keeps very well for 3 to 4 days in the fridge and can easily be frozen. Under no means should you use spaghetti with this sauce (this will again ruin an Italian friendship, sorry). The sauce is quite heavy and dense so you need a pasta that can cope with it. For short pasta, use penne, otherwise fettuccine works well. Also do not forget to combine the pasta with the sauce before plating up. The spoon of sauce over bare pasta is purely a canteen thing and should be avoided at all cost! Do not forget some good quality freshly grated parmesan cheese at the end and enjoy!


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