Ragù alla bolognese

Bolognese sauce   Authentic Italian recipe from Emilia

Bolognese sauce is a traditional recipe from Emilia. There are lots of versions. I'm going to tell you about the most known recipe based on a lot of meat and very little tomato. But be careful, the authentic Bolognese sauce provides a long cooking where its meat is crumbled directly in the pot!

Bolognese sauce or Bolognaise sauce? the real name is Bolognese sauce, it is also known as ragù
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Real bolognese sauce

Ingredients / Serves 4

  • 300g (10 1/2 ounces) beef meat, minced
  • 150g (5 1/3 ounces) pancetta (or slab bacon), finely chopped
  • Half a glass of red or white wine
  • 500ml (1 pint - 2 cups) meat stock
  • 50g (1 3/4 ounces) onion, finely chopped
  • 50g (1 3/4 ounces) carrot, finely chopped
  • 50g (1 3/4 ounces) celery rib, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons puréed tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Pepper, if you like
  • Cream or milk (optional)
  • Time:
    preparation: 20 minutes
    cooking: 2 hours
    total time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Difficulty:
    easy recipe
  • How many calories in a serving?
    Calories: 242 (kcal) 13 % GDA (*)- 1012 (kJ)
    Protein: 25.7 (g) 52 % GDA
    Total fat: 12.5 (g) 18 % GDA
    Total carbohydrate: 5.9 (g) 3 % GDA
    Sugars: 5.6 (g) 7 % GDA

Look at infographic of nutrition facts

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Bolognese sauce recipe

Preparation and cooking

  • - Fry pancetta slightly, in a non-stick frying pan, on moderate heat, stirring frequenlty.
    Stir in carrot, onion and celery too. Continue cooking to flavor.
    At this point add minced beef and continue cooking, stirring, until meat change its color.
    Pour in the wine; let it evaporate.
    Now pour in a glass of meat stock and puréed tomatoes.
    Season to taste with salt and pepper (if you like) and simmer, almost two hours, half-covered, over a very low heat.
    Add other meat stock little at a time, everytime it is necessary.



  • - Bolognese sauce is characterized by its long, slow cooking so that all meat softens and begins to break down in its cooking medium. In fact people who like tradition in cooking don't use minced meat but chop meat with a knife.
  • - There are a lot of versions about Bolognese sauce.
    Some people substitute beef with a mix of beef, pork and fresh sausage.
    Nowadays olive oil (1 1/2 tablespoons) is used instead of pancetta for a low fat recipe.
    You can use milk instead of meat stock, if you like. Simmering meat in milk mellows tomato acidity. In this case use milk and then add white wine.
    Traditional recipe for Bolognese sauce says that, once turned off the stove, you can add all cream obtained after boiling 1 litre of whole milk, but this recipe has more calories and fat. In this case simmer your sauce in meat stock.
  • - The recipe issued in 1982 by the Bolognese delegation of Italian Accademy of Cuisine confines the ingredients to beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, meat stock, white wine, and (optionally) milk or cream.
  • - You can use tomato paste instead of puréed tomatoes. In this case use two tablespoons of tomato paste.
  • - Your sauce will be different according to the kind of wine you use.
  • - Read more on our blog.

Menu planning

  • - Use this sauce for tossing egg pasta such as tagliatelle or for stuffing lasagna (link below!) or cannelloni. Don't use it for tossing spaghetti! This is a dish invented outside of Italy in the North of Europe. It is not an Italian habit.

Useful links for this recipe

Healthy eating

  • - Bolognese sauce is not a low-calorie sauce, certainly. Just read its nutrition facts above. You have to add still pasta calories. So a pasta dish dressed in this way is a single-course meal, without any doubt.
  • - Take a look at the amount of meat too. Basically it is the recommended dose per person. So if you want to include Bolognese sauce in your daily menu, you should not plan another meat meal in the same day.


What's the right wine for " Bolognese sauce "?

Pair Lambrusco di Sorbara (red wine from Emilia - Italy) to tagliatelle dressed with Bolognese sauce. It's perfect!