13 Aug Tagliatelle with Bolognese Ragù


Tagliatelle with Bolognese Ragù

13 August 2020

PREP. TIME: 30 MIN   -   COOK TIME: 2 1/2 Hours   -   SERVES: 4-6

Bolognese Ragù is the correct name of the Bolognese meat sauce that has been reinvented around the world a thousand times and is commonly served with spaghetti as Spaghetti Bolognese.  Typically in and around Bologna you will find it served it in a delicious Lasagne Verdi (a green lasagne coloured with chopped spinach which is incorporated in the pasta dough) or with tagliatelle ribbon pasta. 

To make a Bolognese Ragù in the way described below is not particularly difficult but it does take some effort in obtaining the specified ingredients and ensuring that they are prepared correctly.  It may also involve taking a leap of faith for most because you are likely to find it very different to the meat sauce you are used to making.

Recipe Template

To start with, make the soffrito which is the initial preparation of most Italian soups and stews. In this case - this consists of  onion, carrot, celery and pancetta, which are so finely chopped they are  'minced' so that the ingredients can in fact disappear into the sauce during the prolonged cooking time.  I know that I can manage the vegetables but I do ask my butcher to mince the pancetta for me as it is quite an effort to get it fine enough.  If you are mincing this yourself, make sure you have a very sharp knife and that the meat is very cold, which makes it much easier to handle.  

On the foundation of the soffrito go the ground meats, then some red wine, followed by a meat stock flavoured and coloured with tomato paste.  The sauce is seasoned and simmered for about 2 hours.  It is finished with milk which simmers quietly while you cook the pasta. 

Preparing a ragù ahead of time:

If you make the ragù  hours or days ahead of needing to serve it, finish cooking the ragù  to the desired consistency.  Do not add the milk at this stage.  Cool the sauce, cover and refrigerate until needed. Reheat gently and proceed with adding the milk and cooking the pasta.

This sauce is so jolly good it is worth making a double batch for a household.  On the first day - use what you need to make a lasagne or toss with tagliatelle.  A day or two later it can be used over gnocchi or layered slices of polenta.  Any extra ragù  should be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days or frozen.

Defrost frozen ragù  in the refrigerator.  Reheat it gently allowing it to simmer for 5 - 6 minutes before tossing it through the pasta.


3  Tablespoons double concentrated Italian tomato paste such as Mutti brand

3  Cups Meat broth or low salt chicken stock


1/4 Cup finely minced onion

1/4 Cup finely minced carrots

1/4 Cup finely minced celery

85 G thickly sliced and finely minced pancetta

3   Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2   Tablespoons Unsalted butter

350G Ground Beef Chuck

110G Ground Pork Loin

1/2 Cup medium bodied wine such as Chianti

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 Cup Whole fat Milk

1/2 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated

To Serve

500 G Tagliatelle

1/2 Cup finely grated Parmigiano


Chopping board; Paring Knife; Sharp kitchen knife; Measuring cups and spoons; Medium size saucepan or deep saute pan; Small saucepan; Wooden Spoon;

A large pot to cook the pasta; Metal tongs; Colander; Cheese grater; Serving dish.


Step 1 - Heat the  Broth

Place the meat broth and tomato paste in a small saucepan over gentle heat and stir to combine.

Season with a little salt keeping in mind that the stock is yet to be reduced and that you are adding cheese.  You will season again before serving.

Keep this mixture over a low heat while you prepare the other ingredients.

Step 2 - Cook the Soffrito

Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in the medium size saucepan or fry pan over medium heat.

As soon as the butter begins to foam, add the minced vegetables and the pancetta.

Cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until the vegetables and the meat have a nice golden colour.

Step 3 - Add the Beef and the Pork

Raise the heat to high and add a large spoonful of the meat to the soffrito, breaking up the meat with the wooden spoon before adding the next handful.  Cook for about another 7 - 8 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables have become a rich brown colour.

Step 4 - Add the Wine

Pour the wine over the meat and stir - taking care to scrape up any mixture that is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Continue stirring until most of the wine has evaporated

Step 5 - Add the mixture of Meat Stock and Tomato Paste 

Stir this mixture into the meat and season again with salt and pepper.

As soon as the liquid comes to the boil, reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pan, and simmer for about 2 hours on low heat, stirring and checking the sauce every 20 minutes or so.

The sauce should be thick, with an appealing nutty brown colour, and just slightly liquid.  Add a bit more broth if you have it or water,  if the sauce looks too dry

Step 6 - Add the Milk

Add the milk, partially cover the pan, and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Step 7 - MEANWHILE - Cook the Pasta - and Heat a serving bowl

Heat a large pot of water and bring to the boil over high heat

Add a handful of salt and return to the boil.

Add the tagliatelle and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite.

Remove a large cup of water from the pot and reserve.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot it was cooked in.

Step 8 - Assembly

Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and a small handful of Parmigiano to the pasta and toss well.

Add about 1/3 of the pasta to the sauce and toss quickly to combine using the tongs.

Add another third of pasta and combine with the sauce.  You can use some of the reserved cooking water to lubricate the pasta if necessary.

Toss in the last of the pasta and combine well.

Transfer the pasta to the heated serving bowl.

Step 9 - Serve immediately


Recipe by Biba Caggiano (Biba's Taste of Italy)

Adapted by Elizabeth Peddey

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