Having travelled around the world a lot, I have encountered many variations of the Bolognese meat sauce, most of them have absolutely nothing to do with the traditional recipe, but such are the works of some kind of mutant beings with little or no knowledge of the Italian Cuisine.

Funny thing is, that only on October 17, 1982, the Bolognese chapter of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, “after having carried out long and laborious investigations and conducted studies and research”, decreed the following recipe to be the official one for Classic Ragù alla Bolognese. We’re not necessarily convinced of that, but it’s a fantastic recipe nonetheless.

However almost every Grandmother in Italy has her own version of this delicious sauce, including my own one, but in my opinion the most accurate recipe, respecting the local traditions, is the one of Anna Maria Monari from the Trattoria Anna Maria in Bologna.

Anna Maria is an icon in the culinary world of Bologna and she eloquently says – “Maybe there is an official ragù of the city of Bologna, but the countryside is where ragù really came from. Ragù is the food of the poor, of the people who raise the animals and harvest the crops. I grew up in the countryside around Bologna, and my ragù is my mother’s, and her ragù was my grandmother’s. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the typical sauce from the little villages around the city, and I serve it with tagliatelle or lasagne that I make by hand. My ragù always includes Pancetta, Beef and Pork meat all cut into little pieces, and always cooked for a long time. I prefer not to use olive oil, because it’s too fragrant. Using wine is also no good—it makes everything too acid. What my family has always added is milk because it’s one of the most natural liquids. It brings all of the ingredients into harmony with one another, makes the flavours softer, and tempers the acidity of the tomato paste. I enjoy the process: making a ragù gives me immense joy. When I cook it, I think of the way people used to live; I think of the countryside. It’s a beautiful sensation.” – .

Ragù di carne di Anna Maria

Ingredients for 1,5 kg (approx) of ragù

750 g coarsely ground lean beef
250 g coarsely ground lean pork
200 g pancetta chopped
100 g chopped onion
100 g carrots finely diced
100 g celery finely diced
 80 g tomato paste diluted in warm water
500 ml fresh whole milk
200 ml sunflower oil
fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

Preparation

Place the pancetta in a thick base large sauce pot with the oil covering the base and fry over low flame stirring from time to time until the fat is melted without becoming brown, add the onion and keep stirring until the onion is glassy.

Add the celery and stir whilst keeping on cooking. Add the carrots and continue cooking until the vegetables start to soften.

Raise the flame to very high and add the ground pork and fry until brown, than add the ground beef and keep frying and stirring with a wooden spoon until the meat is well done.

Add the milk and cook until it is evaporated and then pour in the in warm water diluted tomato paste. Season to taste with salt. Let it simmer over a low flame for at least 1 hour.

Season to taste fresh ground black pepper and leave to rest

The traditional pasta that goes with Bolognese sauce are the Tagliatelle, although at home you can eat whatever pasta you fancy. Nevertheless Restaurants serving spaghetti with Bolognese sauce is actually a sign of mediocrity in the understanding of the Italian Cuisine.

Published by Ars Hospitalis