Classic Pork and Veal Ragù of Bologna, or simply Bolognese Ragù, is one of the most famous dishes of Emilia-Romagna. It is delectable, with many variations flourishing throughout the region. Perfect for advance planning and entertaining, make this ragù 1 to 2 days in advance of serving for flavors to deepen and blend into a rich, satisfying dish. Enjoy.
Cooking time is 2 1/2 hours. Makes 4 cups (946 ml) ragù.
4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sunflower or extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped
1/4 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup (3 ounces or 85 g) pancetta, diced or coarsely ground
8 ounces (225 g) fresh pork shoulder or butt
6 ounces (170 g) veal shoulder or veal leg or veal stew cubes
4 ounces (115 g) fresh Italian pork sausage, casing removed
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons (30 ml) tomato paste or concentrate
3/4 cup (6 ounces or 177 ml) moderately dry Italian red wine, such as Sangiovese
3 1/2 cups (28 ounces or 828 ml) tomato passàta
Freshly grated whole nutmeg to taste
Recommended Pasta: 1 pound (454 g) for 4 to 6 servings. Fresh or dried egg pasta such as Tagliatèlle all’ Uòvo is classic.
Recommended Cheese Topping: Freshly grated aged Parmigiàno-Reggiàno.
1. Pork and Veal: Coarsely hand-chop or put through the wagon wheel disc of the meat grinder, cutting to the size of a large pea, about 3/8 to 1/2-inch (1-cm to 1.3-cm).
2. The soffrìtto takes 30 minutes. Pour oil into a non-stick Dutch oven or deep pot. Over low heat, add the carrot and celery, and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and sauté until becoming translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta and sauté, occasionally slowly stirring, until fat becomes translucent and the pancetta becomes very fragrant without browning, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Add the pork and veal, and very lightly salt to extract the meat juices. Completely sear all sides of the meat until it loses its raw appearance without browning or becoming crisp on the edges, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste or concentrate and stir into the soffrìtto to prevent burning, about 1 minute.
3. Cooking time is 2 hours. Increase heat to high. Without stirring, pour in the wine; reduce by half volume, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the tomato passàta completely covering the soffrìtto and meat. Season with pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Decrease heat to low. Simmer uncovered until the meat becomes tender, and the ragù thickens, occasionally stirring to evenly cook and prevent burning. When finished cooking after about 2 hours, you see the balance of meat and vegetables with the passàta looking similar to chili. Cool, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days for flavors to blend and enrichen this Bolognese ragù. Before reheating, remove any rendered fat with a spoon from the surface and discard. Taste and add salt if needed.
4. Boiling the Pasta: In a deep pot, bring lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking together. While the pasta is boiling, scoop out 1 cup (237 ml) cooking water and reserve. Boil the pasta until firm al dènte, because it continues cooking with the ragù.
Serving the Ragù: When the pasta is almost finished boiling, warm the ragù over low heat in a wide non-stick pan for 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high. Drain the pasta leaving a little water clinging to it, and immediately add to the simmering ragù. Toss the pasta with the ragù. Add some reserved cooking water as needed to moisten the pasta and ragù. Do not add the full cup unless necessary. When the ragù lightly coats the strands of pasta making them glisten, after cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, serve immediately.