My version of an Italian classic: Ragu' sauce
Updated: Apr 19
Hello guys, welcome back to my blog!
Today's recipe is a staple in the classic Italian tradition and every family has its own way of doing it. I never tasted one that was identical to the other, even with the same ingredients!
The one that I do it doesn't taste the same of dad's one or my grandmother's.
There are endless versions of this recipe, but I want to share with you my personal signature recipe. It requires a bit of patience but it is totally worth it!
Don't waste money with the one you can find in the supermarkets...they don't even deserve the name (that by the way is not bolognese, which is where it comes from, the real name of the sauce in Italian is ragu'!!!)
Difficulty level: high
-500 gr minced beef
-500 gr minced 5% fat pork
-2 bottles of tomato passata sauce
-Parsley (a small bunch)
-Dill (a small bunch)
-Basil (a few leaves)
-2 bay leaves
- 3-4 carrots (it depends how big they are)
-4 stalks of celery
-1 big red onion
-1 big white onion
-1 big leek
-Mix of mushrooms
-1 glass of a good red wine
-Extra virgin olive oil
When I do ragu’, I usually end up using 2 big pots as I like to do the biggest quantity possible for my little kitchen so I can freeze it and use it later on in the weeks. It takes hours to do it properly so there no point in cooking just one portion, it’s just not worth it. I also use a terracotta pot as it gives a nice flavour and it keeps it warm for hours. I like to start doing it after lunch so that it can be ready for dinner.
-Start peeling the carrots, dice them tiny, clean the leeks, the onions and the celery and chop them as small as you can. Do the same with the herbs but don’t cut the bay leaves, as they are better whole. In alternative you can use a blender! I just really like to cut everything on my own as it make me think of my grandmother who used to do that when I was a child, but it’s not necessary if you don’t enjoy this part.
-Now take the biggest pot you have (you can two medium one but in this case you need to divide the mixture into the two) and pop the diced vegetables inside with 3 generous spoons of olive oil and cook for 5 minutes at high fire. We call it “soffritto”: it basically means that we are sort of frying the vegetables until they are half cooked and the onion turns transparent. The kitchen will be filled with the typical smell of Italian Sundays, when you mother (or your grandmother in my case) will for sure make lasagne, polenta or pasta with ragu’. It is such a nostalgic scent for me! We also use this preparation for every classic Italian dishes including soups. Without it, it would be just boiled vegetables bits. It gives every sauce or dish an unmistakable twist that feels like home.
-Peel the mushrooms and cut them rather thick (I prefer to taste their chewy consistency in the sauce) and add them to the vegetables.
-Now it’s time to add the minced meat. Stir the heavy mixture for 3-5 minutes and then pour the glass of red wine on it and stir again for other 5. This will help to build muscles in your arm so it counts are workout for me!
-Cover with a lid and let it cook for 10/15 minutes always on high heat. I like to enjoy a bit of red wine as well while I am waiting. It’s such a relaxing ritual for me.
-Open the passata sauce (don’t use Napolina brand as I find it very sour) and add it to the pot of ragu’. Season it with a pinch of sugar, half teaspoon of pepper and a spoon of salt. To get the sauce left from the bottle, pour some tap water in it and shake it well, then add it to the pot. It will be quite watery but no panic: at this point you need to leave the sauce cook covered for 4 hours at the lowest heat. The water will eventually evaporate.
-Stir every half and hour just to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pot.
At the end check if it needs more salt. My favourite way to do so is to taste it on some fresh bread. Definitely worth the time and the effort.
Ragu' is a versatile mean based sauce that is great paired with any carbohydrates: from pasta, polenta, wraps or cannelloni. Once made the sauce the rest is just up to your fantasy!
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