Discover Slow Food... Ragu
Meat Sauce ("Bolognese Sauce")
should I make it?
While this recipe doesn't require
much preparation or work it does require time to cook. The longer you
can cook the sauce... the better the results!
So try it on a winter's day when you're staying in and you can just
leave it to slowly cook on the back burner.
Since it takes such a long time to make, why not make a large batch and
How long will it take?
It will probably take you about
15 - 20 minutes to prepare the ingredients and start the cooking
process. You will then need to leave it to cook slowly over a low heat
for at least 2 -3 hours although I tend to leave it for about 4 hours!
What ingredients do I need?
You will need:
fresh shin beef
tins of good quality Italian tomatoes (San Marzano if possible)
- 2 onions,
carrots, finely chopped
stick of celery, finely chopped
(aprox. 100g per person)
and herbs –
Salt & Black Pepper, fresh basil, garlic, bay leaf
of wine (optional)
Can I use any alternatives if I
can find certain
There are possibly more variations on this sauce than any other but
this is my absolute favourite way to make it!
It is much more common to make this dish with minced meat - which will
allow you to reduce the cooking time. When I make it with mince I would
often use a mixture of pork, beef and veal but it's probably more
common is just to use one type of meat. If using mince meat, I would
suggest you ask your butcher to freshly mince the meat for you or mince
it yourself if you can.
Personally, I prefer to use shin beef in my interpretation of this
recipe and to simply chop it into small pieces rather than mince it. I
feel this gives it a more rustic texture and it also lends to a longer
cooking time which I feel gives the best result. I suppose it's
between a meatball sauce and what people term Bolognese sauce.
In addition to the main meat, there are also some who use chicken
livers which give the dish a richer flavour. While others also add
pancetta, mortadella or prosciutto.
The sauce itself:
speaking, garlic is not traditionally added in this recipe but I tend
to add a few cloves. Others will also add mushrooms and even cream.
Then there are those who add any combination of chilli, Worcestershire
sauce, rosemary and sage.
So, while many Italians disapprove of those who stray from the
traditional recipe, I feel cooking should be all about experimenting
with new ideas and flavours and as such feel that variations on the
original should be encouraged!!
preparation do I need to
do / what can I
do in advance?
You need to cut up the piece of shin beef into small bite size pieces.
The exact size is up to your own taste although the bigger you leave
the pieces the longer it will need to cook for.
You will also need to finely chop the onions, carrot and celery as well
as garlic if using.
are the main steps?
begin, as with many Italian recipes, you need to make the Soffritto. This
is the slow cooking of the finely choped celery, carrot and onion in
olive oil until soft. Add the garlic too at this step if using.
soft and the onion is translucent add the meat and brown.
the meat is brown add a dash of wine if using and let reduce down
before adding the tomatoes and bay leaf.
it just about come to a boil before reducing the heat and leaving to
over a low heat.
the sauce every 25 minutes or so and stir. Use your judgement, if it is
becoming too thick and dry and yet the meat is not yet tender you may
need to add some more tomato or even some stock.
about 2 -3 hours or more depending on the size of the pieces of meat,
the sauce should become thick and the meat should become so soft it
almost falls apart when pressed.
basil and seasoning to taste then serve with pasta or use as your
filling in a lasagne.
How should I serve it?
This sauce is traditionally
served with Taglitelle (not spaghetti!!). I also use this sauce for a
meat lasagne though.
Are there any variations to
this recipe that I could
than those mentioned above, this recipe is also broadly similar to the
recipe for the Tuscan dish Peposo (essentially a beef stew). Simply
replace the tomatoes with stock and red wine and add rosemary and lots
What are the origins of this
this dish is often traced back to Bologna, the term "Bolognese" sauce
is not one that is used in Bologna where it will be referred to as
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