I have never been jealous about my family cooking experience, traditions, and recipes, and the first proof of it is this blog! Nevertheless I confess lately I’ve been feeling guilty because many friends keep asking me why I haven’t posted yet my original ITALIAN RAGU SAUCE recipe (otherwise known as “BOLOGNESE” sauce), since it is probably the most popular worldwide! Well, the recipe is not a secret, simply the true is that:
1) I cannot promise that the recipe I am sharing with you could be considered the “only and original Italian Ragu Sauce” because in every different Italian region they have different methods and main ingredients to make their “Ragu Sauce” (Bolognese Sauce). For instance, in Emilia Romagna (the Region of Bologna) to make Ragu Sauce they use minced loin of pork, beef, bacon and ham; in Campania (the Region of Naples) they use pork and beef as well, but not minced (and needs to be cooked for at least 6 hours!); in Veneto (Venezia Region, and the one I come from), they make Ragu Sauce either out of duck, turkey or pork with the particularity to make the sauce more creamy by using whipping cream…. I could go on for each of the 20 Italian Regions!!!
2) My mom never gave me an official lists of ingredients she uses to make her amazingly delicious Ragu’ Sauce, nor the quantities, but I have always watch her eyeballs the ingredients and use some of them (broth or wine for example) according to their availability at that moment. So my Ragu Sauce (Bolognese Sauce), is cooked differently each time I make it, but I will try to sum the most important part here, so you will be able to make YOUR original Italian Style Ragu Sauce!
Since it takes many hours to make Ragu Sauce (and be aware: Italians don’t use the slow cooker, actually they absolutely don’t know it exists), I usually make a big pot of it (approximately 4 pounds), because I know that even if I’m not using it all immediately, I can freeze it without loosing any in taste or texture. My Ragu Sauce recipe is quiet quick (not more than three hours of cooking), easy about the ingredients (just ground beef and Italian sausage), and of course, according to my family, the best Ragu Sauce ever!!!
2 lb. ground beef
1 lb. Italian sausage (ground pork, without fennel seeds)
1 medium sized white onion
1 big (or 2 medium sized) carrots
2-3 sticks of celery
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 tbsp. dry rosemary
1 pinch nut meg
1 pinch dry thyme
1 pinch dry sage
2 can plain tomatoes sauce
1 cup water
about 4 tbs. olive oil (or 1/2 stick of unsalted butter)
1/2 cup red wine or meat stock
optional: 1 meat bouillon
Peel the onion and wash carefully celery and carrots. Chop it all very finely. (You can use your food processor). With a fork, split the mince meat (beef and pork) as much as possible.
In a big nonstick pot, pan fry at medium heat the onion, celery, carrot in the olive oil (or butter if you prefer that option). When the vegetables look cooked, add the meat, turn up the heat and brown the meat until it changed color and its liquid is evaporated completely. Stir every now and then and season with the spices (rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, sage), and salt and pepper to taste.
When the meat has changed color, add a glass of red wine (or meat stock) and allow it to evaporate in the mixture. Then add the tomato sauce and a cup of water. Reduce the heat so you don’t burn the meat but keep it high enough for the sauce to keep the boil, and simmer for at least two more hours. After the first half hour, taste the sauce and if it seems too bland, adjust with sea salt and add a beef bouillon. Again, every now and then check your sauce and stir it.
The sauce is done when all the liquid of the tomatoes and water are evaporated and the meat have the color and consistency as shown in these pictures.
At this point you can spread a slice of fresh bread with Ragu Sauce and enjoy it on the spot (I am guilty of that). When the sauce is completely cooled off, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer.
Remember to heat up well the sauce before dressing your noodles or tagliatelle.
LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!!
Tips and anecdotes:
– As with any Italian traditional recipe, every family has its own and generally the Ragu Sauce (or Bolognese Sauce) is lauded as the best family ever. When I lived in Italy I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the sentence “my mom’s Ragu sauce is the best” or “the ragu that I do it’s not like yours” 😉. Obviously this depends on whether the family recipes are adapted to the tastes of their components, to meet the consensus of them all.
– Besides “tagliatelle”, Ragu Sauce is the best to dress home made lasagna (for my family home made fresh past recipe click here), or home made gnocchi. My daughters love Ragu Sauce on top of a slice of fresh bread (as I do, after all!)
– If you are wandering how to store the sauce, I use sandwich sized Ziplog bags, fill them with about 1 lb. of sauce and freeze it. With 1 lb. sauce you can dress up to 1.5 lb. tagliatelle.
I so hope you will find this recipe interesting, appealing and easy enough to be followed.
I believe this is the perfect recipe to try during this period of mandatory social distancing!
I would love to know how you are coping with this dark period of our history and
which are the recipes you like to prepare the most in these days!