Introduction: Ragu Alla Bolognese

Ciao ragazzi e ragazze! (Hey there gents and dames!),

Are you ever in for a treat!

As you may know, Bologna is arguably the epicenter of traditional Italian cuisine, having given to the world many tremendous Italian foods such as tortellini, tagliatelle, mortadella, and bolognese sauce (a.k.a. ragu or meat sauce). Well today, we have gathered here together to prepare a delicious Ragu alla Bolognese, which is a traditional meat and tomato based sauce best served over tagliatelle. This sauce is quite versatile and can be used in lasagna as well as poured over your favorite sauce-gripping pasta such as rigatoni or farfalle.

For the foodies out there, there is a very traditional recipe for Ragu alla Bolognese as given to us by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, THE authority for Italian cuisine. The Accademia's mission is to promote tried-and-true recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation since time immemorial. The Accademia was surely brought about by a sweet little old nonna (grandmother) who insisted that her recipe be maintained long after she was no longer around to ensure her guests were well fed. Personally, I believe there is a good reason why these recipes have endured over the years and have been institutionalized into the Accademia - it's because they're solid, can't-miss, and delicious! Accordingly, this Instructable will follow the traditional recipe as given to us by the Italians themselves!

That said, you can of course adapt the recipe as needed. I practice the art of sharing - if the recipe gets to have 1 cup of wine well then so should I. Since I prefer red wine, that's what I sometimes use for my ragu recipe.

Step 1: Ingredients for Ragu Alla Bolognese

So let's get to the list of ingredients for making a traditional Ragu alla Bolognese, according to the Accademia Italiana della Cucina. You will need the following:

- 12 ounces of lean ground beef (preferably a good cut of meat such as shoulder)
- 8 ounces of pancetta (Italian bacon - if you use regular bacon just be sure to drain the grease)
- 2 small carrots
- 2 small celery stalks
- 1 small onion
- 12 ounces of tomato puree (may use tomato paste and a small can of tomatos, all blended)
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- 1/2 cup of whole milk
- 3 tbsp of broth (vegetable or beef)
- olive oil or butter
- salt
- pepper
- 1/2 cup cream for garnish (optional)
- tagliatelle noodles

As mentioned, the above ingredients follow the traditions of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina. However, you can supplement or substitute a few items if needed. For example, I decided to substitute the dry white wine for Chianti, which is of course a red wine. In addition, you could also supplement the ground beef with ground veal to have three different kinds of meats in your recipe.

Step 2: Recipe Preparation - Part 1 of 2

Now for the preparation. Here are the instructions according to the Accademia Italiana della Cucina (Part 1 of 2):

"Preparation: In a pan, preferably earthenware or thick aluminum and with a diameter of about 20 cm, first add the cubed pancetta and let it melt (saute) for a few minutes. Add to the pan 3 tablespoons of olive oil or 3 tablespoons of butter as well as the finely chopped onions, carrots, and celery and let this cook gently for a few minutes Next, add the ground meat, mix well with a wooden spoon, and cook until brown and everything is "sizzling." Then add the wine and stir gently until it is completely evaporated. Finally, add the tomato paste or pureed skinless tomatos, cover, and simmer slowly for about 2 hours, adding when necessary a bit of broth. Towards the end, add the milk to soften the acidity of the tomato. Season with salt and pepper."

Step 3: Recipe Preparation - Part 2 of 2

And here again are the instructions according to the Accademia Italiana della Cucina (Part 2 of 2):

"Eventually, when the sauce is ready, according to the custom of Bologna, a bit of cream is added if you will be using the ragu on dry pasta. However, for the traditional tagliatelle noodles the addition of cream is forbidden. This is the true recipe for "Ragu alla Bolognese, presented on the 17th of October in 1982 by the Bolognese Delegation of Italian Cuisine with the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna."

It is important to note that - should you wish to maintain tradition - this sauce should be served over tagliatelle, which are long, flat noodles. However, as mentioned before, you may substitute any good pasta that can "grip" this meaty sauce and carry the flavor. Oh, and yes, that is my 36 inch pepper grinder in the picture.

Step 4: Buon Appetito!

The final step, of course, is to enjoy your delicious Ragu alla Bolognese, knowing that with your preparation you have adhered to the long-standing traditions of true Italian cuisine. This hearty ragu can be enjoyed with a good Chianti or really any Italian wine of your choosing (red, white, so long as you enjoy it!).

The original recipe (in Italian) can be found here:
A brilliant foodie blog about Bologna can be found here:

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