How I Wish I Were Italian: Homemade Ragu alla Bolognese

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I like dishes that have a personal history for me, but I also enjoy dishes full of history themselves. That is true of ragu alla bolognese, a dish that hails from the Bologna region of Northern Italy. I did a lot of research prior to making this dish as while the recipe is quite simple I wanted to understand the reasoning behind it.

Over at We’re Not Full, Amy and Johnny prepared two authentic bolognese sauces and wrote extensively about the dish. I found this post along with one over at Food Nouveau particularly fascinating. I love that there can be so many variations between dishes in the region and that this dish has sparked so much controversy (in it’s own funny way). Apparently, to serve it with spaghetti is a sin! (Mainly because it is not a pasta native to that region).

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Traditional bolognese contains ground beef (and sometimes pork), pancetta (I omitted the pancetta), tomatoes, a soffritto (onions, celery, carrots and garlic – also called a mirepoix) enhanced with wine, milk or cream and seasonings. I was shocked that there wasn’t more tomato in the recipe. I figured Italian.. tomatoes… yes?

Also, as I learned from my food encyclopedia, “the words for Italian ragu and french ragout are both derived from the verb ragouter which means ‘to stimulate the appetite.'”

**Apparently “Bolognese” is also a breed of dog. Look at these puppies!

Anyway, delicious and easy recipe! Perfect for a Sunday night meal and the best comfort food.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Ragu alla Bolognese

Ragu alla Bolognese

Cook onions, celery, carrot, and garlic in oil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Ragu alla Bolognese

Add veal, and pork and cook over moderately high heat, stirring and breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Ragu alla Bolognese

Stir in tomato paste, milk, wine, water, and thyme and gently simmer, covered, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Ragu alla Bolognese

Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling. Frozen, it keeps for 1 month.

Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Homemade Ragu alla Bolognese

Ragu alla Bolognese
 
Ingredients
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼  cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1¼ tsp kosher salt & ½ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook onions, celery, carrot, and garlic in oil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add veal, and pork and cook over moderately high heat, stirring and breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomato paste, milk, wine, water, and thyme and gently simmer, covered, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 1½ hours. Add salt and pepper and
 

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