Bolognese is a meat-based sauce from the Italian city of Bologna. The sauce is made from ground beef, pork, or veal, as well as tomato paste, tomato, red wine, and milk. It also includes soffritto, which is a vegetable base of carrot, celery and onion. It is often served over pasta or polenta in some regions.
The process of making meat bolognese sauce consists in simmering the sauce at low heat for usually 3-4 hours.
When my grandmother was preparing the dish every Sunday in Italy, no one in the family was late for lunch! I can still remember the aroma of the ragu that was cooking all morning. In my house, we strictly respected the Bolognese tradition in the making of this dish, but over the years she adapted the recipe to her taste. The recipe below is for the traditional Ragù alla Bolognese.
There are many different recipes for ragu, but the people of Bologna take it very seriously and have formed groups of chefs from the Accademia Italiana della Cucina to make sure that the original Bolognese recipe stays authentic and true to the tradition. In fact, here are strict rules that many restaurants in the United States don’t follow. For example, ragu is never served with spaghetti. So if you go to Italy, don’t ask for spaghetti bolognese!
This rich sauce recipe must instead be served with egg pasta (or even better, fresh pasta), and the pasta must be tossed with the ragu, not just ladled over the pasta.
Although they may seem strict, by following these rules you can truly say you have made authentic Ragu alla Bolognese. I made it the traditional way and I hope you do too, so that you can enjoy this authentic Bolognese dish and share it with your friends and family!
Pasta types that go well with bolognese sauce:
Yes! If you do, prepare the recipe until step 6. Then, transfer the bolognese mixture to the slow cooker. Add the chopped tomatoes, the meat broth, and stir. Slow cook on high for 2 hours or 4 hours on low, stirring occasionally. Finish as directed in steps 9-10.
Yes! Use the instant pot’s sauté setting to cook the sauce recipe from steps 1 to 6 as above. Then seal the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. Release all the pressure inside the pot by using the appropriate valve. If the sauce is too liquidy, turn on the sauté setting of the pot again and cook on low heat until the sauce thickens. Be sure to stir occasionally.
The bolognese sauce may be stored in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container. Alternatively, it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw before using.
To better enjoy the bolognese sauce, coarse pasta would be the best since would carry more sauce than any other type of pasta (this means no spaghetti!). According to tradition, fresh pasta is better, but if you’re unable to obtain this or make your own, the most popular types of pasta served with ragù bolognese in Italy are:
Looking for other meat sauce recipes? Why not try our Ragù Napoletano recipe or Braciole recipe?
Where did you get your meat tenderizer?
Ciao Jeff – I used this type
I never seem to find a good canned tomato brand. Can you share your top favorites? Hopefully I can find them at my Whole Foods. Grazie
Ciao Giuliana – there are so many brands, for San Marzano tomatoes, I would make sure that they are imported from Italy and that they have the DOP (denominazione di origine protetta) symbol. Sometimes I use passata di pomodoro, I always buy the one that is imported from Italy. Mutti is a brand I find often in grocery stores.
I can’t have fresh milk; what is a good substitute? And when would you add it? I can have 24 hr yogourt, but I think that would be too tangy, or would it work?
Ciao Laurie, I would not use yogurt. You can omit the milk if you can’t have it.