My “original” Italian Ragu Sauce (Bolognese Sauce)!

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.


 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!

Much love




on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

on INSTAGRAM: Silvia Italiangoodness

on PINTEREST: Italiangoodness, Italian recipes and more!




my ITALIAN desserts are available upon orders in the QUAD CITIES AREA.

Check out my HOME BAKERY PAGE to learn more! 

How to make baked crunchy chicken drumsticks.

Some time ago a friend of mine confessed that she has given up trying to make baked chicken drumsticks because every single time they turned out disgustingly tender and kinda steamed. Yet, I told her: “Baking crunchy drumstick is possible“! Yes, I mean,  without frying the chicken and by following few simples rules you can prepare a healthy, low fat, easy and appealing meal which basically bakes itself without too much of your involvement. And honesty, especially at the beginning of the year, with all the good resolutions about eating clean, it doesn’t waste to find a new ” favorite healthy family recipe”  to be added to the food plan of the week. 

This chicken drum sticks recipe is based on a few constants:

  1. make sure the drumsticks are completely thaw: it happens often that even if you bought them from the store refrigerator, the drumsticks are still frozen (or have a lot of ice around). If you don’t thaw the drumsticks before baking, you will obtain steamed chicken.
  2. the oven temperature has to be very high. I mean 440 F.
  3. Bake in “convection” mode.
  4. You don’t have to be in a rush. You can reach the crunchiness only if you bake for at least one hour.
  5. Coarse salt is the secret ingredient to get that crunchy and tasty layer around the drumstick.
  6. Use a very big glass oven pan: the drumsticks don’t have to touch each other, otherwise the meat will stay soft right were they touched one another.


(I eyeball the ingredients according to the number of drumsticks I’m making)

chicken drumsticks

virgin olive oil

sage leaves


rosemary leaves

coarse salt


In a bowl rub lightly each chicken drumstick with virgin olive oil and then sprinkle with chopped sage and rosemary,  and few garlic cloves very finely cut. 

Arrange the drumsticks in a glass baking pan making sure each drumstick doesn’t touch one another, and dust both sides with coarse salt.

Bake at 440 F. for 30 minutes. Then, take the pan out of the oven, flip the drumsticks upside down, and let cook for another 30 minutes. See the crunchy layer all around I was talking about?

You family members, children in particular, will looooooove this recipe!


Tips: – Of course my daughters prefer to side the chicken with chips or fries (so it gets no healthy no more), but this meal  can be totally lean, healthy, high protein and good for you. Just remember to side it with some veggie and fruit.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,
share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe to  receive every week one new recipe for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,


Milanesa style thin cut beef (Cotoletta alla milanese): enjoy a non processed fried food. So easy and so good!

The Cotoletta alla Milanese – also called “costoletta” or “fettina panata“- is an exquisite, ancient recipe, appearing in all famous Italian cuisine books and restaurant menus, but also traditionally used in families especially to make meat tasty for children (as meatballs and beef rolls). The Cotoletta is, together with Milanese risotto, ossobuco and panettone, among the most typical dishes of Milanese cuisine. The dish is typically a thin cut (fettina) of milk-fed veal (according to the classic Milanese recipe), but lamb and pork are also common meat alternatives. The beef I use normally, is called “beef top round, extra thin cut for milanesa” which I easily find weekly at Walmart. Honestly, as all the other typical Italian recipes, every family has developed a slightly different way to prepare this dish. While one person may use only eggs yolk, another might fry in butter instead of oil. Others prefer to use just bread crumb for coating, and so on. So, the version I am sharing with you is the one my grandmother and my mom always cooked for us. The beef is quick and easy to cook, absolutely appealing to adults and kids, and not particularly unhealthy (aside from the fact that is fried food)  😉  if you pick a good quality oil for frying (my favorites are olive oil or peanut oil), you use your home-made breadcrumbs (suggested but not required) and a fresh cut of meat. Most of the time I prepare “cotoletta alla Milanese” when I have beef leftovers from  beef and ham lava cheese rolls.

4 servings INGREDIENTS:

4 big slices beef top round, extra thin cut for milanesa, cut in two pieces

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

1/2 cup corn bread flour

1 beaten egg

Vegetable oil (to fry)

black pepper to taste

sea salt to taste


Usually the “milanesa style thin cut” is sold in very big slices of meat. Before starting cooking, cut the slices in two, it will make dredging the meat in the egg and the frying part much easier and less messy.  Beat the egg and add a pinch of black pepper.

Dredge the meat into the eggs beaten in a deep bowl. You can do this many hours in advance if you like, so the egg will get absorbed by the meat evenly and will keep the breading better.

Mix the bread crumbs with the corn meal, and coat evenly the beef slices on both sides. Again, if you need to get dinner ready quickly, once coated, the meat can stay (covered and well stored) in the fridge for about 24 hours (that means you can prepare the slices coated the night before cooking them).

Heat the oil in pan, and when it reaches the cooking point (try with a little piece of crumb or a wooden tool to check) start frying your beef slices. Pay close attention to the color of the crumbs, that should turn golden but not brown. If the oil is hot enough, it would take not more that few minutes per sides.

Drain the meat on a paper towel as you normally do with fried food, dust with sea salt, and serve still warm.


TIPS: – Serve with mashed potatoes, baked potatoes or vegetables, as preferred, but even French fries would be a delicious choice!

– Many people like to sprinkle few lemon drops on the meat before to eat it, but I don’t since the lemon make the breading become soft and no more crunchy.

– If you like to try the butter instead of the oil for frying, go ahead: the taste will be stronger, and you may like it even better…

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, and subscribe to receive a new recipe each week for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,


Venice Style Liver: you must try it!


Our lives are most of the time marked by a routine. Jobs, meals, time with the kids, TV and couch time, everything at a certain point of our life becomes repetitive.

At least once a week we should make an effort to get out of our routine- to make or do something different which will help satisfy our souls and spirits. And accordingly, we should sometimes try different kinds of food, at least to get a bigger spectrum of nutrients into our diet, and be healthier.

Liver (don’t make that face, it is a kind of meat as any other! 😉 ) is a very good choice for our body thanks to the incredible quantity of vitamins, proteins and minerals it contains. As per the last one, I have always had to fight with my low level of iron. Well, adding liver once a month to my diet not only made my cooking habits more exciting (oh my, it is so delicious!) but has given me the mineral I needed to feel stronger and healthier.

Venice Style Liver (finely sliced liver with gently stewed onions) is one of the most classic Venetian dishes (along with Mozzarella in Carrozza), and probably one of the most popular around the world. Even those who do not usually like liver will enjoy it, because white onions’ sweet aroma mitigate the strong flavor of the liver, to create a sophisticated gourmet dish.

All in just 30 minutes!

So forget your distrust, follow this recipe, and – I promise – you won’t regret it!

INGREDIENTS for 4 servings

1 lb. beef liver (better if veal liver) – mezzo kg. di fegato di vitello

3 lbs. white onions – 1 kg e mezzo di cipolla Bianca

2 Tbs rosemary – 2 cucchiai di rosmarino

2 tsp. crushed red pepper – 2 cucchiani di pepperoncino

salt to taste – sale quanto basta

about 5-7 Tbs olive oil – circa 5-7 cucchiai d’olio di olive


Cut the onions not too finely and rinse the liver, dry it thoroughly with paper towels and cut into 1/2 inch strips.

In a pan, pour 5 Tbs. olive oil, add the onions and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

When the onion becomes translucent, add the liver strips, the rosemary, the crushed red pepper and salt, and let cook – stirring from time to time – for about 5-8 minutes.


The meat should change color, but not be overcooked to avoid it to becoming tough.

A few minutes before taking the pan off the stove, add some sea salt if necessary and a couple of Tbs. of olive oil.

The perfect side dish for Venetian Style Liver would be – for sure – “Polenta” (Italian Corn Meal) or mashed potatoes.

Your gourmet dish is ready to be enjoyed!


TIPS: – The downside of liver: it contains a high quantity of cholesterol. This is why it’s recommended not to consume it more than once a month.

           – Another great thing about this dish: it is super cheap! You can buy a pound of liver for less that $4. So go ahead and try it! You will broaden your horizons by trying something new, and if you don’t love it as much as I do, you will only be out $5. 🙂

           – I suggested you add the olive oil *after* cooking because raw oil is healthier than cooked, more digestible and less harmful for our body.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do, share it, like it, leave a comment, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,


Ricotta and beef meatballs. An Italian classic!


In the collective mind of Americans, spaghetti with meatballs is one of the most popular Italian dishes.

Actually, this is partly true, considering that in Southern Italy they do dress spaghetti with meatballs and sauce.

But since I come from Northern Italy, I grew up eating just the meatballs as a main dish, possibly accompanied by mashed potatoes.  The meatball recipe I’m excited to be sharing with you this week is one of my grandmother’s “classics”!

She used to make a lot of meatballs all at one time, and then she cooked part of them immediately by simply frying them in olive oil.  The rest were cooked in a tomato sauce, and eaten in the next few days.  This is why I give you the quantities for a big pan of meatballs; they are just as delicious as left-overs, or you can freeze them, without loosing any of the taste.

Meatballs are a simply delicious meal, and like many other dishes that I’ve already described in my past posts, this one also finds its roots in the tradition of the Veneto Region.


INGREDIENTS for the meatballs

2 lbs. ground beef  (1 kg. carne macinata)

1 lb. plain Italian sausage- without fennel seeds (1/2 Kg. salsiccia)

1 lb. ricotta (1/2 kg. ricotta)

3 eggs (3 uova)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (1 pugno grana)

sea salt to taste, I suggest about 3 pinches (3 bei pizzichi di sale)

2 pinches nutmeg (2 pizzichi noce moscata)

1 pinch dry rosemary (1 pizzico rosmarino)

1 tsp. fresh or dry parsley (1 cucchiaino di prezzemolo)

optional: a clove of garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup bread crumbs (1 pugno pan grattato)

all purpose flour for breading (farina per la panatura)

olive oil or vegetable oil for frying (olio d’oliva per friggere)


5 tbs. olive oil (5 cucchiai d’olio d’oliva)

30 oz. (2 cans) tomato sauce (2 barattoli di polpa di pomodoro)

1/2 medium white onion, chopped (mezza cipolla tritata)

1 clove of garlic (1 spicchio d’aglio)

salt and pepper to taste (sale e pepe qb)

1 tsp. crushed red pepper (1 cucchiaino peperoncino)

1 tsp. rosemary (1 cucchiaino rosmarino)

1 tsp. basil (1 cucchiaino basilico)

DIRECTIONS for meatballs:

In a big bowl mix the ground beef, Italian sausage, ricotta, eggs, parmesan, and spices/herbs (all ingredients except breadcrumbs).

When all the ingredients look amalgamated, add the bread crumbs, and keep mixing.


Put the mix in the refrigerator to chill, and meanwhile prepare the tomato sauce.



DIRECTIONS for tomato sauce:

In a large pan, brown the chopped onion and the garlic clove in olive oil.

When the onion looks golden, add the tomato sauce and all the herbs/spices.


When the tomato sauce reaches boiling, turn the burner to low heat, and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, covered.

If the tomato sauce becomes too dry before 15 minutes, add a couple tbs. of water.


While the tomato sauce is cooking, take the meatball mix out of the refrigerator and start to make small balls.



Each meatball should be made with about 1 tbs. of meat mixture (remember that the smaller your meatballs are, the taster they will result).

Then flour each meatball evenly.


Into a large pan pour about 5 tbs. of olive, switch on the heat, and when the oil is hot, start to brown the meatballs all around.

Cook at medium heat for about 10 minutes. They have to become brown slowly, so they don’t stay row inside.

Considering that you will obtain plenty of meatballs, you’ll probably run out of olive oil in your pan.  So, I suggest to rinse and wipe out the pan when the oil in the pan begins to burn, and use new oil to brown the remaining meatballs.

You can eat the fried meatballs immediately, or mix them in the tomato sauce.

Once the tomato sauce is ready, take the garlic clove out of the pan, mix the browned meatballs in it, and let them cook together at medium heat for about 5 minutes, to allow the tomato to get the meatballs’ taste!





– I’ve never made spaghetti and meatballs because to me meatballs are already rich enough, but if you want to make them to dress your pasta, you’ll get a really great entree!

– As I told you in the header, if you make the meatballs before dinner, you can just fry them and enjoy them without tomato sauce.

– As side dish, I suggest mashed potatoes or any other veggies.  Of course with french fries the combination would be perfect…  if you just don’t care about calories 🙂

– If you have meatballs leftover,  freeze them only once they are cooked and mixed with the tomato sauce.

Beef, ham, and lava cheese roll (involtini): lucky I got this picture, since everybody wants to devour them immediately!!!


This recipe is one of those which makes me recall when I was little.  This is the first reason I love it; the second reason is because it is absolutely delicious! When my parents were young and starting to build their home, they had to be very shrewd with money, and my mom had to select groceries very carefully so as not to spend too much.   Plus, as many other children, my brother and I were not big fans of meat, so she had to reconcile two issues: 1) make sure that her kiddos would eat meat and 2) spend the least amount of money she could.     These beef rolls were her (absolutely scrumptious) solution.  Not only kids, but all of your family and guests will love them, plus they also are super easy to make and inexpensive.   The crunchy outside of the roll hides a melted cheese heart and a light taste of ham.  Hard to believe that such a “poor” dish, can have such a symposium of tastes!

INGREDIENTS for 6 rolls:

6 slices beef top round, extra thin cut for milanesa

12 slices smoked ham

6 Swiss cheese singles

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

1 beaten egg

Vegetable oil (to fry)

sea salt to taste


For each roll, spread a slice of beef on a chopping board.


Along one edge of the beef slice, arrange 2 slices of ham, overlapping each other as shown.  Then place 1 cheese single, folded in thirds, on top of the ham.  Fold the ham around the cheese (top and bottom, then each side).  Be sure to fold the ham around the cheese very well to avoid gaps where the cheese could seep out of the roll during the frying phase.  Flip the ham and cheese pocket over so the folded edges face down, to help keep it from coming open.

Now wrap the ham and cheese pocket with the slice of beef, tucking in the top and bottom edge of the beef slice as you roll.  When you have the ham pocket covered completely, cut off the surplus (you could use it later, for a delicious Bistecca alla Milanese).

Once you have all your rolls done, dredge with the beaten egg and then breadcrumbs, coating evenly.

Fry each side of the rolls in a greased pan, until they become golden all around.

Salt the rolls, and serve immediately to get the best result, crunchy outside and melted inside.




– If you are planning to make the rolls for dinner, you can prepare them in the morning, and keep them refrigerated until dinner time, so you just have to fry them before serving.

– Since I try to eat the least processed food I can, I use plain breadcrumbs made out of baked bread. To see how I make them, click here.

– The perfect side dish to these rolls, for sure would be fries, but considering that they are pretty rich (in taste and calories), I suggest serving them with  a “light” side dish, like a mix of boiled carrots, peas and potatoes.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment and subscribe to receive a new recipe each week for free,

and help support my blog!

Much thanks,