Contrary to the common believe outside of Italy, ragù is not a quick sauce to prepare when you don’t have time. It is something that takes an entire afternoon to prepare and that’s why Italians often prepare it during the weekend and store it for the rest of the week.
In Italy there are as many versions of ragù as many households. Every city and every region has its own version and claims it to be the original one. Despite the fact that all of them are probably right, one of the oldest and most popular versions of ragù was born in Bologna. It was a very fat sauce prepared by rich families and a symbol of their wealth. For this reason this sauce is famous abroad as Bolognese Sauce.
Another myth about ragù is that it is best served with spaghetti. Any average Italian would look at you in a very suspicious way if you serve him or her spaghetti with ragù. This sauce is usually served with wide (with/without egg) pasta like “pappardelle”, “fettuccine” and”tagliatelle” (all of them are very wide noodles). It goes well also with short pasta like maccheroni, penne and so on. It is essential for the preparation of Lasagne and “Pasta al forno” (that is baked pasta).
Here we present a very basic version of it, quite light compared to other preparations and quite easy to do. Now, just find 4 free hours and get to work!
- 100 g pancetta cut in small cubes
- 500 g minced beef
- 500 g minced pork
- 2 onions
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stick
- 750 ml tomato sauce (passata)
- 1 spoon tomato concentrate
- 250 ml water
- 1 glass of red wine (we’ve used a Barolo from Piemonte)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
10-12 people portion: if you wanna prepare less sauce, just reduce the quantity of the ingredients proportionally.
First thing, let’s take care of the vegetables. Cut celery, onions and the carrot in little cubes.
Then do the same with pancetta (that is a seasoned pork belly, usually spiced with different herbs). Throw the pancetta cubes in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and let the fat melt in the pan.
Once that pancetta is wel done, add the rest of the vegetables and let them cook for about 15 minutes at low/medium fire, making sure they don’t burn (otherwise they’ll get a bitter taste).
In the meantime in a big pot put the minced meat (beef and pork) and 2 spoons of olive oil and let it cook at strong fire. Keep steering the meat to make sure it won’t burn. We highly recommend to use a cast iron pot (like a cocotte, Staub or La Creusette).
The meat will start releasing a lot of liquid. Once the liquid is almost gone, add the glass of wine and wait until it is all gone.
Once the meat is ready, add the already cooked vegetables to the pot together with the meat and reduce the fire to medium. Keep steering and make sure that all the ingredients are well mixed together.
At this point add the tomato sauce, the water and the tomato concentrate.
Steer for a minute and once all the ingredients are well mixed set the fire to low and cover the pot.
Now it is time to patiently wait for about 4 hours (we did it for 3 hours thanks to Staub). Every half hour we suggest to steer the pot to make sure that it is not burning at the bottom (don’t forget to keep the fire very low, it is a slow cooking sauce after all). The smell of the sauce will slowly invade your entire home.
Lastly add salt and pepper (as you wish, we like it not too salty).
Now that the sauce is done, it is time to prepare the pasta.
We’ve chosen some classic tagliatelle. The thing with the egg pasta is that it takes just 5 minutes to cook. You won’t need to steer the pasta together with the sauce in a pot or a pan (like we often do in other preparations). Just put the cooked pasta on a plate and add a generous spoon of sauce at the top.
Accompany the pasta drinking the same wine used to make the ragù.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.
By the way, you hardly finished all the ragù we’ve prepared. As any good Italian, store the sauce in small containers and keep them in the freezer for no more than 2 weeks.