Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ragu Bolognese

This is one of Nick's absolute favorite dishes.  I should have written about it before now.  It is the ultimate in comfort food and a recipe I have made so often I know it in my sleep.  Particularly because I am a stickler for how it is done.  It isn't difficult or complicated but when one step or ingredient is amiss I can taste it.  

I have had some lively discussions with fellow enthusiasts of this dish as to its contents.  Some use tomato, some don't.  There have been those known to use red wine (although I prefer dry white so as not to overpower the other flavors).  Some use just beef and others use beef, veal and pork in thirds.  My brother does a great version using that variety of meat, pancetta and minus the tomato.  I always like the fresh contrast of tomato and parsley against the richness of the meat.  These ingredients are flexible but it is the liquid reductions that are important in tenderizing the meat and infusing it with flavor.  First milk, then wine and, if you like, tomato.  It is those reductions that define the difference between a meat sauce and a ragu.

This recipe will make a decent amount so you should know that it freezes well, is awesome over polenta as well as pasta and will make your lasagna unforgettable.

Ragu Bolognese
  • diced pancetta
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 to 3 carrots finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, ends trimmed and chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 cup San Marzano tomato puree (or about half a 16 oz can)
  • freshly ground nutmeg to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt (kosher or sea) to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese to taste
In a heavy bottomed sauce pot or dutch oven, saute` pancetta in olive oil just enough to give it color and to render some of the fat and release the flavor.  Add your chopped aromatics, onions, celery and carrots.  Saute` until soft and the onions are translucent.  Add your ground meat and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up into smaller and smaller chunks while it is cooking.  Add milk and let simmer until the milk is absorbed into the meat, about 15 minutes.  Add freshly ground nutmeg to taste.  Add wine and let simmer until it is absorbed into the meat, also about 15 minutes.  Add your tomato puree and let simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes but up to an  hour stirring occasionally.  Add parsley, salt and pepper before serving.  Serve over pasta or polenta with grated cheese. 


  1. You make it sound so delicious! Am hungry; I think I should just go sleep ;p

  2. Hey wassup? Don't you think you should tell us what you've been eating?