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Ragu bolognese

Off to Bologna to Enjoy Tagliatelle Ragù Bolognese

Ragu bolognese

Anticipation: Train, Strikes, Bordeaux, Ryanair, (and finally) Bologna.

As I walked into the gare de Pau this morning, I got that sinking feeling in my stomach. “Oh no” I thought, say it isn’t true! “Mouvement Social” and “Perturbations” were in block red letters, scrolling on the list where the train departures and arrivals were announced.

That means strikes on the SNCF French trains and late departures and cancelled scheduled trains. Sxxt! As I walked to the ticket booth to get more information I thought positively, “I have to get to Bordeaux, I have to get to Bordeaux!” Because tonight I am on a trip to Bologna and gastronomic heaven and my flight to Italy leaves from Bordeaux, 3 hours away from Pau.

“No, Madame, your train will leave on schedule.” Ahhhhhh, Yes!

So now I am halfway to heaven. I sit here in Bordeaux train station and write this, my flight in 6 hours, my stomach growling telling me to eat. And all I think about is how good it will taste when I dive (slowly) into my favorite Bolognese dish: Tagliatelle alla Ragù Bolognese accompanied by a glass of Italian vino rosso (red wine).

I need it like a desert needs water.

History of Authentic Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese sauce gets totally messed up around the world, except in Bologna. It is one of the most forged and miscopied recipes that is currently widely cooked around the world. You might order pasta with Bolognese sauce at a restaurant or make it at home but the version you taste will probably be different from what authentic bolognese sauce really is.

Authentic Ragu Bolognese contains very little tomatoes. It is cooked with milk or cream. It is served on big thick tagliatelle pasta.

And it is amazing. And rich. And it is usually served as a first course, il primo piatto, in Italy.

And this authentic sauce is protected with an official and authentic Ragù Bolognese recipe officially stamped in 1982 by the Italian gastronomic authorities. This version uses a little pancetta (like Italian bacon) and some milk. You can find the recipe here.

Taste test: Ragù Alla Bolognese Made with Cream or Milk?

A few years ago, our cooking club made the authentic (1982) ragù recipe using milk for our Italian themed meal. We also used another (yet very close to authentic version) Ragù alla Bolognese recipe using cream.

Both dishes were equally delicious but the Bolognese recipe made with milk was lighter and less heavy on the stomach. And if you serve Tagliatelle with Ragù Bolognese as a first course, as some Italians do, the cream version is very ‘heavily yummy’ but rich, so it is hard to keep appetite space free for the main course, il segundo piatto. I recommend making the milk version.

Personally when I am in Bologna I like to eat this dish as a main meal and I serve in to my family the same way. You can have a light antipasto or salad to start, or choose to serve the salad after the meal, like in Italy, to help digestion.

And this dish is perfect with a medium-bodied glass of Italian wine, like a Lambrusco or Saniovese di Romagna.

Ragu bolognese

Another (Tried and Tasted) Recipe for Tagliatelle with Ragù alla Bolognese

This recipe is from Chef Mario Caramella, Italian GVCI President, and was presented at the January 2010 “International Day of Italian Cuisine.” I have made this and it was taken from blog “Love What You Do.”

You can find the original source article here.

(note -if you do not have tagliatelle, you can use a bigger pasta noodle like fettucchine)

1000 grams = 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

1000 ml= 1 liter = approximately 4 cups (240 ml= 1 cup)

Ingredients to serve 6 persons:

600 grams of dry, egg dough tagliatelle (about 1 pound)
1 kg Bolognese ragù (see recipe below-to premake and reheat when pasta is cooking).
Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese freshly grated


  • Cook the pasta in large pot of salted boiling water, strain when al dente, and place pasta in a hot pasta bowl
  • While pasta is cooking, bring the pre-made ragù to a light boil and if sauce is too thick add little water from the pasta
  • Spoon the hot sauce over the steaming and fragrant tagliatelle and serve with the freshly grated cheese on the side
  • Place a spoon and a fork with the dish so the guests can mix their own pasta and put the right amount of grated cheese. This is the real and better way to enjoy this dish. The alternative is to sauté the pasta and the sauce in the kitchen and then serve it.

And now for the Bolognese ragù recipe from Mario Caramella:

“To achieve a great result, this sauce should be made fresh every
and be served within a few hours or the same day”

Ingredients for 2 kg (approx) of Bolognese Ragù (make 1 kg for today’s meal and the other half for the next day or in lasagna verde).

600 grams coarsely ground lean beef
400grams coarsely ground lean pork
200grams pancetta diced or chopped
100grams chopped onion
100grams carrot diced
100grams celery diced
1kg tomato peeled (canned)
300ml dry white wine
500ml fresh milk

3 pc bay leaves

240 ml of chicken stock

Black pepper and salt to taste


  • Place the pancetta in a thick base large stainless steal saucepot. Stir and cook pancetta over low flame until the fat is melted, add the onion and keep stirring until the onion is translucent
  • Add the carrot and celery and the bay leaves and keep cooking until the vegetables start to soften and get some color
  • Raise the flame to very high and add the ground meats, previously mixed and seasoned with salt and black pepper and mixed well, by hand (wearing gloves!)
  • Keep cooking and stirring with a wooden spoon until the meat is well done
  • Pour in the white wine and keep cooking until the wine has evaporated
  • Process (briefly) the peeled tomatoes in the food mill and add to the pot. Continue cooking slowly over a low flame for at least 2 hours. If it becomes too dry add some beef stock
  • Add some milk and some chicken stock, stir and leave to slow boiling at low flame
  • Keep going with small amounts of the milk and the stock for 60 minutes at low flame
  • Season to taste and leave to rest

It takes a little effort, but a real authentic Bolognese ragù is a must to make and eat. Lucky for me I get to be in Italy tonight for the real version in its region of origin. I cannot wait to get to Bella Italia!


Buon Appetito.


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Warmly, Mary


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One Response to Off to Bologna to Enjoy Tagliatelle Ragù Bolognese

  1. Christine @ Taste of Divine June 24, 2014 at 00:42 #

    Oh Mary I don’t think I have ever had “authentic” bolognese before. I am definitely pinning this recipe to save for later. Hopefully someday soon I can make it to Italy and eat some of this!

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