Ragù alla Bolognese {recipe}

This entry is part 10 of 31 in the series My Italian Kitchen

italian-kitchen-bannerIf you are a vegetarian, you will want to skip the next few days as we will be talking about meat sauces. These sauces are a bit more elaborate than the simple tomato sauces I shared last week. Often, they require a bit more cooking so that the flavors marry well.

These sauces should be cooked in either an enameled cast iron pan (like a Le Creuset Dutch oven) or a very heavy stainless steel. Like many good recipes, there are a number of variations on the classic ragù –  meat-based sauces served with pasta.

The most typical are ragù alla B olognese (from Bologna), ragù alla Napoletana (from Naples), and ragù alla Barese (from Bari,  sometimes made with horse meat).

In southern Italian regions, especially near Naples, ragù is often prepared with large, whole cuts of beef and pork, and sometimes regional sausages. After a long braise, the meats are removed and are reserved for the second course. 

I have to add this: This ragù has nothing to do with the brand name Ragu.


Today I will share my Zio Tonino (Uncle Tony’s) recipe for Ragu’ alla Bolognese (Meat Sauce in the Bolognese style). In case you didn’t know, Bologna is a city about an hour north by train from Florence. Granted Zio Tonino is not from Bologna since he is my mother’s youngest brother but he has lived in various parts of the north in the last twenty or so years. He’s also a great cook. And carpenter. And a bit of a comedian and jokester. But I digress.

Traditionally made with tagliatelle, you can also serve ragù  over other broad, long pasta such as fettuccine or even linguine, or alternatively, you may serve it with tube-shaped pasta such as rigatoni or penne. We often use spaghetti because they are my dad’s favorite but that is not traditional.

Traditional recipes call for a mixture of meats which can include beef, pork, lamb or even giblets. Some recipes call for the inclusion of salt pork and milk. Mine will be a much simpler version. Most ragù is to be slow cooked to thicken. This recipe is, albeit, a bit more complicated than most, but I would not label it ‘difficult’ and it only cooks for about 20 minutes. I hope you will try it.

Ragù alla Bolognese

A few notes: Whenever you see a recipe that calls for tomato sauce, use tomato puree. Canned “tomato sauce” has added ingredients which will alter the flavor of your sauce. My favorite brand is Pomi’ Strained Tomatoes. If you cannot find tomato puree then you may substitute diced tomatoes (read your labels! It should only contain tomatoes and salt.) which you can then puree with an immersion blender. [Links in this post are affiliate links which means I make a small commission at no additional cost to you.]


  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • tomato puree
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped


Finely mince the celery, onion and carrot. I like to use a food processor. I made a quick little video for you.

Coat the bottom of your sturdy pan with olive oil and heat it on medium heat. Add minced vegetables and sautee for a few minutes. Add your ground meats and cook. When the meat is browned, add the white wine and cook off the alcohol for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree, the bouillon cube and marjoram.

If your puree is already thick you only need to cook for about 15 minutes. If not, then let it cook, venting the lid with a wooden spoon which will allow the steam, and therefore water, to escape.

Add the parsley and cook 5 minutes more. Serve over pasta cooked al dente. Sprinkle with grated Parmiggiano.

Buon appetito!



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About Sheila @ Making the Most of Every Day

I'm a wife, mom, and a homeschool teacher. I'm always behind on housework and paper pile sorting. I'm fond of this crazy life but not of melted cheese. I want to follow hard after God, making each day really count. I like to run, read, cook (and eat!). Thanks for joining along on my journey!

14 thoughts on “Ragù alla Bolognese {recipe}

  1. Your “31 days” is making me so happy. I’m a very basic cook, so I’m having a blast learning from you. Can’t wait to make some of the recipes!

  2. I kind of made this tonight, and it was good, Sheila! (Had to scale it back for just C and me.) How much tomato puree do you use? Beef bouillon cube?

  3. You need your own cooking show! Thanks! I love bolongese too! Would love to have you & Tina over for lunch one day. Or is she back in Italy for the winter?

  4. Would you use tube pasta or spaghetti or just whatever is in the pantry? OK, I know the answer. But if you were at the store picking a box, what would you pick?

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