Pasta bolognese is a beef ragu that comes from Bologna region of Italy. This bolognese recipe (or beef ragu) is a classic Italian meat sauce that is cooked for hours and then tossed with the pasta. This authentic bolognese sauce is the one that you will find used often in Italy when you visit Italy and there is no cream or dairy of any kind which is how traditional beef ragu is made.
About this Bolognese Recipe:
This traditional bolognese recipe (beef ragu) is one that many Italians make and it does not involve cream or milk like many recipes out there. The key to this authentic bolognese sauce is lots of meat and cooking it for hours to achieve that richness that makes a bolognese so delicious.
This is not like a meat sauce that Americans think of when they think of bolognese. It is a meat heavy sauce with a little wine and classic Italian aromatics like onion, carrots and celery and a thick tomato sauce.
The end result is pure meaty richness that you will love.
Ingredients to make a traditional bolognese:
- Tomato Puree.
- Meat- We use ground pork and beef in this recipe along with prosciutto.
- Olive oil- Try to use extra virgin olive oil.
- Salt and pepper- This one is per the recipe and then tasting at the end to see if you want to add more. Kosher salt is preferred.
- Red wine- You can also use white wine if that is what you have.
- Fresh Pasta- Try to find tagliatelle or another wide long noodle shape.
How to make:
- Step 1: First you want to finely chop your carrots, onion and celery in the food processor. This ensures they completely cook into the sauce later.
- Step 2: While the food processor is out, you will also want to finely grind your prosciutto which will be added in later with the meat.
- Step 3: Start sautéing your aromatics for the ragu (onion, carrots and celery). When the aromatics are soft, remove it from the pan on to a plate for later.
- Step 4: Take out your ground beef and ground pork and add it to the sauté pan.
- Step 5: When you cook the meat, you are not going to cook it all the way through like you would in other meat sauces you are used to. You want the meat to render in the sauce.
- Step 6: Here is what the meat mixture should look like after cooking it. About 60-70 percent cooked.
- Step 7: Grab your tomato puree.
- Step 8: Add your tomato puree to the meat and mix well. At this stage it looks like a regular meat sauce. It will cook into a beautiful Ragu, promise!
Tips when making this bolognese sauce:
- Pasta: try to use fresh pasta when you make this bolognese which is how Italians would eat this dish. Tagliatelle is also preferred (or a similar wide noodle pasta) since the sauce has something to stick to.
- Tomato puree: Italians use what is called passata for the bolognese. Passata is basically tomato puree and is easily substituted. Whole tomatoes or crushed tomatoes are too liquid to use in this recipe so make sure to use puree.
- Do not skimp on the amount of meat. The three meats used in this bolognese are important and what an authentic bolognese is all about, the meat. If you cannot find prosciutto you can use pancetta.
You may see many recipes for authentic bolognese and they all may vary a lot but most of them do use some sort of cream or milk. Many Italians will argue that is not a traditional bolognese. This is what I learned when I visited Italy.
I make another bolognese, my pork bolognese which uses cream in it to add more richness and because I only use one meat, pork. It breaks another rule of using spaghetti and not fresh pasta. The end result is still shear deliciousness and it is rich the way an Italian bolognese should be.
Both versions are amazing just different. I hope you give this bolognese recipe a try and see for yourself, how amazing such simple ingredients can be.
More Italian Pasta Recipes:
- Pork Ragu (Pork Bolognese)
- Pasta Genovese
- Pasta with Broccoli and Truffle Cream Sauce
- Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
- Broken Noodles with Sausage and Kale
- Pasta with Chickpeas, Spinach and Lemon
- Italian Sunday Gravy- Sicilian Style
- Ricotta Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms
Authentic Bolognese Sauce (Beef Ragu)
Tried the Recipe? We Would Love To Hear From You In The Comments Below!
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 lb ground beef preferably 80/20 mix
- 4 ounces Prosciutto ground in food processor. Optional but recommended,
- 1 lb fresh tagliatelle or another fresh pasta like linguine
- 1 28 oz can of pureed tomatoes
- 2 small carrots shredded in food processor
- 1 small yellow onion shredded in food processor
- 1 celery rib shredded in food processor
- ½ cup good quality dry red wine you can also use a drier white wine
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil best quality you can find
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- In a large pan over medium heat, add your olive oil, carrots, celery and onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until they begin to soften.
- remove from the pan on to a plate for later.
- In the same pan add your ground pork, beef and prosciutto and break up into small pieces and cook lightly making sure not to brown the meat but gently cook it.
- Now add all of your wine and cook until the wine completely evaporates and gets absorbed into the meat.
- Once your wine has completely evaporated out (you cannot smell the alcohol anymore) add your tomato puree and mix well.
- Next, add 1 tablespoon of salt and mix well.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and turn down heat down to low and allow to gently simmer for at least 3 hours, preferably 4, making sure to check it every 30 minutes or so and give it a good stir.
- Taste for seasoning and see if it needs any salt.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
- When the water is boiling salt it well and add your spaghetti. Follow the instructions on the box of spaghetti for cooking just to al dente. For fresh pasta usually 2-3 minutes is all you need.
- Once the pasta if cooked drain the pasta and place it back into the pot. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water in case you need to thin the sauce.
- Add 1 ladle of the red sauce to the pasta and mix well to prevent it from sticking to itself.
- You can plate this family style by placing your pasta in a large platter style bowl and scooping out 1-2 ladles of meat sauce over top of the pasta.
- Toss the pasta that you ladled and the pasta together so the pasta does not stick.
- Serve this with the remaining pasta sauce and freshly grated Parmesan on the side.
For leftovers:If you are doubling the recipe or have enough for leftovers, make sure to store the sauce and the pasta separate. Ideally for leftovers it is best to just make enough pasta for the first night and make enough sauce for 2 nights. On the second night (leftover night) just make a new pot of pasta to go with the sauce.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here