- Rigatoni cling to the sauce

Ragù alla Bolognese: the real Italian recipe

All you need to know about the real Ragù alla Bolognese

1y ago

Well, here we are. Today we are talking about one of the most reinterpreted Italian dishes abroad: Bolognese.

I've seen everything about it: creativity mixed with pure horror and – as much as I like Richard Hammond – his twist on it was anything but Italian.

The strange case of Spaghetti alla Bolognese

The Spaghetti Bolognese is highly appreciated everywhere except where it is believed to have been generated: in Italy. In Emilia Romagna, where Bolognese Ragù was born, it is even a real blasphemy.

They tell me that there are even packs, jars and "ready bags" with Spaghetti Bolognese. Well, I imagine Hell in this way.

The reason why we Italians do not eat ragù with spaghetti is more straightforward than one might think: spaghetti do not "cling to the sauce". The durum wheat spaghetti, being slippery, is basically unable to hold the sauce well.

The "short pasta" is perfect: rigatoni, penne, mezze maniche, conchiglie and everything in which the sauce can nestle like a surprise in an Easter egg.

Another excellent way to eat ragù is lasagne, or you can garnish polenta with it.

But if you like to eat ragù with "something to roll", there are tagliatelle! Tagliatelle are perfect with ragù: thicker and rougher than spaghetti.

The story

The "ragù" was already present in the tables of the aristocrats of the Renaissance, initially as a dish in itself and only later used to add to pasta.

The recipe initially consisted of a stir-fry of beef with celery, carrot and onion, lard and butter, and has undergone variations over time, the main of which was the introduction in the nineteenth century of the tomato.

In 1982, the Bologna delegation of the Italian Academy of Cuisine deposited the recipe for Bolognese meat sauce at the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture of Bologna, to guarantee continuity and respect for the Bolognese gastronomic tradition in Italy and worldwide. And then... Spaghetti Bolognese happened.

Hopefully this recipe will help you to please Italians everywhere.

The recipe

Ragù alla Bolognese

A simple recipe



  • 300 g of coarse ground beef
  • 150 g of pork
  • 300 g of tomato sauce
  • 50 g onion
  • 50 g of celery stick
  • 50 g of carrot
  • 50 g of olive oil
  • ½ glass of red wine
  • ½ glass of whole milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 beef cube and 300ml of water; or 300ml of meat broth
  • Tomato puree


  1. Finely chop onion, celery and carrots. Wet the bottom of the pan with the oil, pour the mince (with a drop of water, a little, so the vegetables will sag and do not risk burning them), and stir-fry over low heat.
  2. Add the two types of meat, mix and break it up with a wooden spoon if needed. The meat will release some water, wait for it to dry before adding the wine.
  3. Add the wine and let it evaporate. Turn the meat from time to time gently until the wine has completely evaporated.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, the beef cube and the water (use the water to rinse what remains of the sauce in the bottle). Obviously, if you use broth instead of water, don't add the beef cube.
  5. Cover entirely or as you see in the photo. Stir often so that the sauce is flavoured well and that no film is created on the surface.
  6. Let cook over low heat. The sauce must "simmer". It can take 2 to 3 hours, depending on how long it needs for the water to evaporate. Towards the end, it is essential to add the milk to give creaminess and dampen the acidity of the tomato. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste. The result must be as in the photo.

Recipe Notes

It is better to use a non-stick pan, you never know...

Have you tried this recipe? Share your photos & thoughts in the comments below

Look at that!

Play video

The fire must be low and the sauce must "simmer"

Dressing the pasta

Looking at various photos, I noticed that it is customary to season the pasta on the plate. In practice, drain the pasta, put on the plate and spread a little sauce on it. I have a better idea: season it in the bowl. Sooner or later I will make a video on how to "jump the pasta", or on how to season in the pan without the need of a spoon, but for now, the pan where you cooked the pasta is also fine. After draining, put the pasta back into the empty saucepan and add the sauce you need (keep the rest aside for another dinner... assuming you have leftovers). In this way, the pasta is seasoned better and "clings the sauce" in the best form.

Rigatoni with Bolognese sauce and grated Parmesan

Rigatoni with Bolognese sauce and grated Parmesan

Some tips

- The pork. Some say to use minced bacon. Some open and chop sausages, I use the pork mix you see in the picture: it practically has the same ingredients like sausage, but it is skinless, therefore more practical.

- The doses. It is not strictly essential that the quantities are accurate. If you have a little more meat or a little more or less vegetables, that's fine. As I said: while the pastry is science, cooking is sentiment.

- The wine. Some people use white wine. It is not essential that it is red, but I think it is better. In reality, there is the perfect wine: San Giovese di Romagna, a local wine from the region in which the ragù was invented, but using that wine is a mannerism, not a necessity.

- The broth or the water? It's the same thing: I put the water and add a cube, but if you have ready-made broth use that, it doesn't change much.

- Puree. It is good, with more flavour. Concentrate or triple concentrate. If you don't have it anyway, don't make it into a drama.

Buon Appetito!

Join In

Comments (19)

  • Excellent. We are sort of at the point now where we need an Italian to tell us how to do pizza and Bolognese, and consider all other sources forgeries.

      1 year ago
  • Yup, I did it! I took the liberty of slightly changing some ingredients because I wanted to use up the stuff that I had at home anyway and the result is: HEAVEN! Spaghetti definitely wouldn't go well with that, you'd end up eating the pasta and the ragù separately. I used tortiglioni, which are probably still a bit too long for the purpose but it was still really really good! 😊 Thanks for posting the recipe, Val!

      1 year ago
  • Looks absolutely delicious!

      1 year ago
  • Pleased to report, I did it again! Different kitchen, different equipment, same phenomenal.result! 😋

      1 year ago