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Ragù – not from the jar!

Classic Ragù alla Bolognese Take your time to make this beloved Italian sauce The key ingredient in a great Bolognese sauce is patience. That begins with cutting your meat and vegetables evenly, then browning your meat and allowing your stock and wine to reduce gently, while you carefully monitor the pot to make sure nothing scorches. The reason you’re taking things slow? It’s to add a depth of flavor and bring together different cuts of meat, aromatics and tomato paste to make one of the greatest, most beloved sauces in history.

Bolognese gets better with age, so go ahead and make it ahead of time, then let all the flavors meld together. Great for leftovers during the week.

Recipe from my Nonna Piccia Ruocco (Italian Grandmother)

Serves 4-6


  1. 1 TBS butter (optional)

  2. 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

  3. 1 medium onion, small dice

  4. 2 to 3 stalks celery, small dice

  5. 2 to 3 carrots, small dice

  6. 2 lbs. ground meat (ground beef, turkey, veal, pork or any combination of)

  7. 1 tsp Kosher salt

  8. 1 tsp nutmeg

  9. freshly ground black pepper

  10. 3 – 4  TBS  tomato paste

  11. 1 cup whole milk (warm)

  12. 1 vegetable or chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup warm water (can substitute chicken broth)

  13. 1 lb. pasta (penne rigate, rigatoni, gemelli, etc.) OR Sauteed Spaghetti Squash


Prep for Ragu

Prep for Ragu

Prep ingredients before you start cooking.  For mirepoix, I usually chop a plentiful amount carrots, celery, and onion (use a food processor to dice and save time).  Above is the basic amounts.

  1. To make mirepoix: Melt butter & heat oil over medium heat in a large Dutch or French oven (Le Creuset) or high rimmed skillet with lid. Add diced carrots, celery, and onion. Cook about 8-10 minutes, until tender and liquid is cooked off. Stirring often.

  2. Add meat. Mix meat with veggies while browning, 5-10 minutes on medium. Remove excess fat.  Sprinkle salt, nutmeg, and freshly ground pepper.

  3. Add tomato paste and milk, stir to combine well.  Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover loosely and cook for 30 minutes

  4. Add dissolved bouillon cube in water.  Cover and continue simmering on low (just bubbling) for 30-45 minutes. When it’s ready it should be a thick sauce, not soupy.  Add a little water if needed. Taste it and add salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Cook pasta as directed, to al dente.


Time of the essence, toss all pasta and Ragu sauce together in the large pot or another large serving bowl. Place individual servings on plates.  For a fancier serving, after straining pasta, put pasta in large mixing bowl and toss with a little butter or olive oil to keep it from sticking together. Then spoon pasta onto each plate and cover top of pasta with plentiful amount of sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Flavor additions and variations:

1 –  For a little spicier flavor, add 1 tsp red pepper flakes.

2 – Saute with meat, 1-2 sausage links, remove skin and chopped up, or 2 ounces pancetta finely diced.



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