Saturday, 26 May 2012


Bolognese sauce (or ragu alla Bolognese), is a classic Italian meat sauce that originated in the city of Bologna, the capital of the Emilia–Romagna region in Northern Italy.  Bologna is a beautiful university town with a long and impressive cultural history. 

A classic Bolognese contains milk or cream and some type of cured meat such as pancetta. I have chosen to omit both these ingredients from my sauce recipe. However, adding a little milk or cream to the pasta, just a bit of it, and mixing in Pecorino Romano cheese, makes up for the absence of dairy in the ragu itself. For my palate that's a better option. 

An interesting fact is that the city of Bologna has created a standardised recipe for "ragu alla Bolognese." That recipe has been deposited for safekeeping with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce. My recipe for Bolognese sauce is deposited in a drawer in my kitchen. Which of the two recipes is more important?  

This easy to make recipe will yield a dense, silky, multi-dimensional sauce. If there are any leftovers, they can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and frozen for up to 1 month.

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 large red onion, chopped (the red onion is sweet and strong flavoured)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped, and go ahead and use the celery leaves, too
  • 2 carrots, chopped well
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 or two bay leaves 
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • a few rinds of Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 10 plum tomatoes, skins and seeds removed, chopped
For the pasta:
  • 1 pound pasta; fettuccine is a good option because this is a hearty sauce that needs a hearty pasta
  • chopped parsley and basil
  • a little cream
  • grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • black pepper
  • Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven and add the onions, carrots and celery.
  • Sauté until the vegetables are soft. Keep stirring and add the garlic. Cook for about a minute.
  • Add the ground beef, a little at a time,  and cook, stirring to mix with the vegetables. Keep stirring and adding the ground meat. Cook until all the meat is no longer pink. 
  • Season with salt and pepper and mix. 
  • Add the red pepper flakes and the oregano cook for about a minute.
  • Add the tomato paste and mix well.
  • Add the tomatoes, cheese rinds, and bay leaf.
  • Mix, turn the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook, occasionally stirring so that the sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook for an hour. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. 
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and place on a serving platter. Season with Pecorino Romano cheese, a little cream and some chopped parsley and basil.
  • Spoon some of the sauce on top and mix. 
  • Serve the sauce alongside the pasta.