Mario Batali's Ragu Bolognese

Mario Batali's Ragu Bolognese

Details

This classic ragu Bolognese consists of vegetables, veal, pork and pancetta which are slow-cooked with milk, white wine and just a hint of tomato paste.
  • Serves: 5 cups
  • Active Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
  • Views: 64,809
  • Success Rating: 98% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog
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Steps

Step 1: Preparing and Cooking the Mirepoix

• 5 cloves garlic
• 2 medium onions
• 4 ribs celery
• 2 carrots
• 1/4 cup olive oil

Method

To begin the ragu, first émincé the garlic. Finely chop the onions, celery and carrots.

Next, preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the oil and vegetables (also known as mirepoix) and let cook until translucent, but not browned, about 5 minutes or so.

Step 2: Adding the Meat and Cooking the Ragu

• 1 lb ground veal
• 1 lb ground pork
• 4 oz pancetta
• 6 oz tomato paste
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Method

Gather the veal and pork. Very finely chop the pancetta or cut it into quarters and then pulse it in a food processor until ground. Once the vegetables are translucent, add all of the meat and increase the heat to high. Let the meat brown, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes.

While the meat cooks, gather white wine, milk, tomato paste and thyme. Once the meat has browned nicely, add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Then add the white wine, milk and fresh thyme. Stir again, scraping the bottom if needed. Let everything come just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

As the ragu cooks, remember to stir it occasionally, to prevent it from sticking or scorching.

Step 3: Finishing the Ragu

• sea salt (to taste)
• freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Method

The ragu should be cooked until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, however, it should still be moist. Once it is done, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let cool.

This ragu is great for any type of pasta dish. It can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; it can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

Chef's Notes

This ragu is part of Mario Batali’s Lasagne.

55 Comments

  • Tony D
    Tony D
    With milk & tomato paste
  • Kelvyn J
    Kelvyn J
    What kind of Wusthof Knife is that?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    It is called a Cook's Knife, it was the 6"- it is from the Wusthof Classic Ikon Series...it's a great knife! http://www.metrokitchen.com/product/WU-4596-7-16
  • Kelvyn J
    Kelvyn J
    Alright thanks, looks great
  • Yvonne C
    Yvonne C
    What is the reason for cooking for an additional one to one and a half hours. Why not serve as soon as the meat is thoroughly cooked?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The reason it is cooked longer is that this gives the sauce and ingredients time to really come together. I guess it's the same reason why stews and braised dishes taste better the next day...time and patience. Hope this helps!
  • Yvonne C
    Yvonne C
    Thank you. Yes, I have noticed that stews and braised dishes taste better the next day even if served cold. Short cuts won't do it, time and patience will.
  • David G
    David G
    Anyone know where to get ground veal in Vancouver? Is it something that all butcher shops will have?
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Yes... you should be able to get this from any butcher. I suggest you call ahead and order it though. Windsor Meats on Main, Jacksons on Granville Street, City Meats on 4th Avenue (across from Safeway in kits) are good places to start.
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Here's a link for you: http://www.vancouverpersonalchef.com/butchershopsvancouver.html
  • David G
    David G
    Joe, the one at 4th and Vine in Kits is called market meats. I just checked their website and it says they have ground veal: http://www.marketmeats.com/mmprimeveal.htm Thanks for the tip, I forgot about them. They are expensive though... I wonder if Cioffi's or Bosa's would have it.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Believe it or not, Costco sometimes sells ground veal. Actually many places nowadays seem to sell it -even some Buy-Low grocery stores sell it.
  • David G
    David G
    Making this tomorrow for my wife's birthday (she's half Italian). I got ground veal at Bosa along with some strozzapreti pasta. I had strozzapreti for the first and only time at La Terrazaa downtown about a year ago and I thought it went really well with a thick Bolognese sauce. Can't wait to try it again...
  • David G
    David G
    It turned out great and everyone loved it. Seasoning was very important and I almost forgot to do it. I tasted it and it was quite bland then added salt until it tasted really good, then stopped right there to make sure I didn't over salt it. The strozzapretti went pretty well with it, although not as well as I would have hoped. I'm still not used to such a chunky sauce. Any recommendations for what pasta to serve with such a think & chunky sauce as this? I couldn't taste the pancetta enough. I might try putting half a pound next time...hopefully that's not overdoing it.
  • Thurston H
    Thurston H
    If my memory serves me correctly I remember reading somewhere that the "official" primary meat to be used in a Bolognese is ground skirt steak. Back in the 1980's, in Bologna, some culinary council for the city ruled that for an authentic sauce skirt steak must be used. They went on to further define if milk should be added In my experience it should ideally be served with big pasta shapes like linguine, tagliatelle, and fettuccine.
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    This sauce was made specifically for Mario Batali's Lasagne alla Bolognese al Forno: http://rouxbe.com/recipes/1146-mario-batali-s-lasagne-alla-bolognese-al-forno/preview Not really sure about the skirt steak rule. As a chef, I can't tell you how many times I've heard the word "official" or "authentic" used. Everyone, everywhere in the world seems to have their own version. I say, if it works and taste goods, it really doesn't matter. I would agree that big meaty sauces traditionally go with larger pasta shapes but the idea behind this ragu is that when cooked in liquid over a long period of time, that the meat actually breaks down quite a bit. As for the recipe, you'll have to take that up with the big guy - Mario B - as it's his recipe, not ours. I should add that the Lasagne recipe is amazing - best one I've ever made. Takes a lot of time to prepare, but worth every bite.
  • Kate L
    Kate L
    has anyone heard that it's better to used 'uncured' pancetta for bolognese sauce? btw u can definitely get ground veal at Bosa foods.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    I have never heard of uncured pancetta. I think that perhaps uncured pancetta (as well as uncured bacon) is actually just pork belly. What makes pancetta, pancetta and bacon, bacon is the curing process. As for using pork belly in a bolognese sauce, I am sure it would also be good. It just won't have the same flavor profile. If you try using just pork belly instead of pancetta, let us know how it turns out. Cheers!
  • Marcus F
    Marcus F
    My question is about browning the meat. Mine didn't turn out brown at all -- seemed quite a bit lighter than what is pictured. Does this make a difference? I cooked it as the recipe suggested, but I noticed quite a bit of moisture/liquid in the pot, and I suspect that's why the meat didn't brown. Any suggestions?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    There could be a few reasons why the meat did not brown...without being there or being able to ask more questions, I would say this...the heat maybe was not high enough or perhaps the pan was not large enough for the amount of meat you had, which in turn maybe made the meat steam rather than saute. Also, the meat could have been a bit wet or fatty. That being said, I made this same ragu the other day. I actually made a batch and a half and because I had more meat, my ragu also steamed a bit...but I was okay with this, as I was also adding tomato sauce to make it more saucy. I had a bit of extra fat and moisture on the surface of my ragu, so I just skimmed it off and kept on going. I added about 4 cups of tomato sauce and it made for a delicious spaghetti dinner. That's what is great about cooking, it's never boring, it's about practicing and adjusting...working with what you have and what is actually happening while you are cooking. Hope this helps!
  • Marcus F
    Marcus F
    Thanks, Dawn. The meal was delicious nonetheless -- just finished eating. I tossed some tagliatelle into the ragu, and shaved on some grana padano. It's interesting that you added tomato sauce, as we were just commenting that we'd add some next time to make it a little more saucy. I had thought specifically about adding the basic tomato sauce that's covered under the Italian cooking lesson section. As for the pot I used, it's a Staub 4.5 quart cocotte. Perhaps I need a bigger one, as it was quite full before everything cooked down. (By the way, I have recently discovered cooking as a passion, and I love this site!)
  • Anthony L
    Anthony L
    In the general seasonality of veggies, we've found that celery gets really scarce in Zürich in the winter - and it's not exactly plentiful other times. I've been using celery root, which is available - "knollensellerie" - in my mirapoix with acceptable if not outstanding results Am I on the right track? Are there other ideas I might look for to help balance the mirapoix flavor triad?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You are on the right track Anthony. You are thinking about what is available to you and adapting. You are also thinking like a chef, in that you are experimenting and finding out what works for you. If you haven't already, you should also watched the Drill-down on Mirepoix. It also talks about different flavor profiles of mirepoix. Hope this helps, keep up the good work!
  • Noemi R
    Noemi R
    Even though it was store bought, I followed the video lesson and it came out perfectly!!! Added some butter to the Basil/Tomato Sauce from Trader Joe's (organic food store in the USA), and also added some medium thin cut zucchinis to the sauce and dried oregano. After the pasta was done, I tossed it with the sauce! It was a bit thick so I added a bit of water from the cooking pasta and it came out so good! Topped it off with some fresh shredded parmesan cheese and also had a glass of Italian wine! I had the feeling of being in a good restaurant! I was in heaven! Food is great when you do it right! \(^^)/
  • Noemi R
    Noemi R
    p.s. Next time I will try it with Mario Batali's Ragu Bolognese! Thanks to all for sharing your culinary experiences! {Wish I could have edited my entry}
  • Marcus F
    Marcus F
    I'm curious as to what kind of onion is usually used in Italian cooking. When making the tomato sauce or the ragu I have used yellow onions, while others have used white onions. Just wondering which way you lean.
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    White, yellow and red are often used. It depends on how much of a sweet or potent flavor you want. Here is a good link which talks all about onions. Really, whichever you have on hand will be fine, although consider the color when using red. Hope this helps!
  • John Q
    John Q
    how much meat,one lb etc
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    All of the quantities are listed in step 2 of the text recipe. Hope this helps.
  • Sushruth C
    Sushruth C
    i have been reading a lot of different recipes for bolognese. what is the difference between adding tomato paste and canned/strained tomatoes? what is the difference betweeen adding white or red wine? thanks
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    First of all, tomato paste is generally much thicker so will make the sauce thicker. You can also thicken a tomato sauce if using runnier tomato product (e.g. canned/strained) by simply simmering it and evaporating (reducing) some of the liquid. Most importantly though, you should be thinking about ensuring that you have good canned tomato products. I searched "tomato" on Rouxbe here to find answers to these kinds of questions: http://rouxbe.com/search?q=tomato&x=0&y=0 (click on the 'tip and technique' tab) Re: white and red wine, I turn the question back to you. What do you think? Part of teaching is to help our students trust their own instincts. Joe
  • Sushruth C
    Sushruth C
    i imagine the red wine will give the sauce a much more dark, overall tone. the white wine will make it lighter.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Indeed you are correct Sushruth. To add to that, not only will the color be a bit different the flavors of course will also be affected by the different flavors and strengths of the wine. Cheers!
  • Andre N
    Andre N
    I have used a larger pot, so the liquid evaporated sooner. Is it okay to add more liquid or would that change the overall flavor? I've also substituted the pork with fresh sausage. It tastes good, but the texture is different. It seems a bit pasty. I'm guessing it is because of the fat in the sausage. cheers.
  • Michel R
    Michel R
    By mixing the ragu and tomato sauce, is it enough for a good spaghetti sauce?? Is there other ingredients we might add? Thanks
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    I'm sure this combination alone would be delicious. Give it a try and let us know how it turns out for you. Cheers!
  • Concetta H
    Concetta H
    Is there a reason why salt is not added throughout the cooking process ( sweating the mirepoix and when adding the meat), and to only season the sauce at the very end?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    The reason the salt is not added throughout for this particular recipe is merely because this recipe is by Mario Batali, so we kept it as he did it. Cheers!
  • Gloria M
    Gloria M
    I'm looking forward to trying this recipe. I've been buying tomato paste in a tube, instead of canned. Would I still use 6 oz. or reduce the amount if it's labeled 'concentrated'?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Generally, you can still use substitute 1:1 canned tomato paste for tubes tomato concentrate (technically they are both concentrated tomatoes). With that said, every brand will be different, so you may need to use more or less. I have always just used the same amount and I can't say that I have noticed a real difference. Hope that helps. Cheers!
  • Alex  B
    Alex B
    I'm assuming I'd be able to substitute chicken stock for milk in the recipe, but I was wondering if any sort of non-dairy milk can work as well. I was hoping this could make it a little richer than stock, but I have never really cooked with non-dairy milk and don't know how it will taste or react. What kinds of non-dairy milk do you prefer for cooking and baking?
  • Joseph  S
    Joseph S
    For me the major contribution of the paste is with the following: it intensifies the flavor as well as creates desired thickness of the sauce, second is color, vibrant, which if added with red wine can be more beautiful and shiny if finished with a little bit of olive oil. Finishing with the flavor of olive oil brings it more closer to Italy both as to aroma and flavor.
  • Joseph  S
    Joseph S
    For me the best way is to sweat only vegetables with a little bit of seasoning, this is because I use unsalted stock instead of milk, which helps reinforce the flavor and little bit of romano or grana padana. The cheese adds seasoning to the right taste, plus aroma and flavor.
  • Joseph  S
    Joseph S
    Use of pancetta is not mandatory for me, its only for flavor, so can use bacon, prosciutto, or guanciale but this only depends on how prominent I want the flavor to be. Herbs, not strict with thyme as bay leaf and other herbs may be use as well. Even if no herbs at all. One can use tomato puree too or crushed tomato, depends on how one like it to be, anyway this is a sauce focused on meat not mainly on tomato.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Alex- In this recipe, I might recommend that you try rice or almond milk (unsweetened) if you are going for richness. The only issue for some is that these would impart some nutty flavor, which may or may not make any difference considering that there other strong flavors in this dish already. The main risk is that certain certain types of nut milk might split with the persistent heat and acidity, and it's hard to predict. Baking with nut milks is more forgiving, as the variables are more contained and the acidity is less likely to be all over the map. I like coconut milk, almond milk, and hazelnut milk for baking. Enjoy!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Joseph. Keep up the great work! I enjoyed reading your notes and commentary. It seems that you are quite deliberate in your cooking and you have drive and motivation to learn more. I'm sure your Rouxbe classmates will enjoy learning a bit from you! Thank you for contributing to our discussions. Enjoy!
  • Joseph  S
    Joseph S
    Thanks a lot for the appreciation, I am so happy too that you join Rouxbe's A-team I am looking forward to learn more from you and the rest of the team. Specially with the professional course that is comming up I am so looking forward to it. My humble and many thanks to you and everyone else.
  • Matthew C
    Matthew C
    I'm in a small town, and the local grocery stores don't generally carry veal. Would you recommend adding ground beef, or would it be better to double the ground pork? Thanks
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You could substitute with either ground beef or more ground pork, or better yet, increase the pork by about half and use some ground beef as well. Cheers!
  • Matthew C
    Matthew C
    Thanks for the quick answer, Dawn. Especially on a Sunday.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You are most welcome Matthew :)
  • Yuseph K
    Yuseph K
    Hey, Would it be possible to skip the milk altogether? Thanks
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Yes, you can certainly omit the milk if you'd prefer. ~Ken
  • Diago F
    Diago F
    I am noticing an issue here. You keep saying this is Mario's recipe, but looking at Mario's actual recipe on FN says otherwise as a lot of these ingredients have been doubled or more (double the carrots & onions, 4 times the celery, triple the paste, 5 times as much garlic cloves, thyme is not in his recipe). So, with this in mind, won't this have a much different flavor than Mario's actual recipe?
  • Kirk B Rouxbe Staff
    Kirk B
    Hi Diago - thanks for your comments. Your instincts are correct here as sometimes, when you increase a recipe, the flavor profile might change a bit. I will be sure to take a closer look at this recipe's dynamics with my colleagues. In the meantime, you can definitely make the recipe by cutting it in half and trying to get closer to the ratios that Mario's recipe uses on FN...I look forward to hearing the results. Many thanks for engaging with Rouxbe. Chef Kirk

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