Homemade pasta Ragu Bolognese recipe is more than just a humble meat sauce originating from Italy. It is a bold, rich variation of Ragu brimming with copious amounts of grandiose flavors and a sublime sweetness that is sure to become one of your favorite pasta recipes ever!
Make no mistake, this is not spaghetti. Ragu Bolognese recipe is much more than that and it is obvious from the very first bite. Elegant ingredients and a slow-simmered cooking technique set this one apart before you ever get to the indescribably good flavor and you are going to absolutely love it! This is one of my “go-to” recipes for Sunday Supper!
Well, I think the first and most obvious thing that attracts me to this Ragu Bolognese recipe are the distinct layers of lavish flavors that abound from this dish to take my senses on a pleasure pilgrimage through the megapolis of YUM!
Despite the long simmer time required, it is incredibly easy to prepare, and it will make you look like a rock star in the kitchen. Here are even more reasons to love it!
- Incredible unparalleled flavor
- Simple cooking technique
- Great with various pasta
Making Ragu Bolognese recipe does take some time (quite a bit of time actually), but it isn’t complicated. Most of the time involved is for simmering and this is done in stages to help build the layers of rich, complex flavors. Ideally, slow simmering means you don’t need to stand directly over the stove, and you can get other things done while you’re waiting.
The key phrase here is ‘slow simmering.’ Simmering is typically done over a medium-low to low heat, depending on what’s being simmered and pan particulars. It allows gentle bubbling.
On the other hand, slow simmering is usually conducted with low heat and produces very little activity in the pot. A stray bubble here and there with little wisps of steam will let you know you are on the right track.
Because of this long cooking time, the sauce is best made in an enamel cast iron dutch oven. This type of cooking pot helps to diffuse the heat so the sauce won’t stick or scorch as easily. You will still need to be on hand to stir the sauce with regularity to make the sauce on a day you can hang out!
Here’s another little tip. Marcella Hazan, the great Italian cook, and writer instructs you to simmer until all the liquid is evaporated (about an hour and 15 minutes). Grazie Marcella!
While this may work for some, I find that this practice comes too close to burning those little bits into the bottom of the pan, which we are trying to avoid. I typically simmer for about an hour and leave just a little juice in the pan to keep everything moist.
Okay, this recipe employs some old-world Italian techniques to bring a little taste of Italy to your kitchen, but the ingredients are also of utmost importance. Don’t skip the veggies in this recipe! I know some may be thinking ‘carrots in Ragu Bolognese?’ but they are essential to the recipe.
Not only do they add depth of flavor, but they are completely nutritious, and they provide the sublimely sweet undertones that you just can’t put your finger on! If you noticed, there is no sugar in this recipe because it relies on the vegetables themselves to help build yummy earthshattering flavor.
The mixture of ground beef and pork also adds to the rich qualities of this Ragu Bolognese recipe. It can be tempting to drain all the fat out of the pan once the meat is cooked but you don’t want to do that. Instead, allow the fat to combine with the juices you’ll be simmering to improve tenderness and add deep, rich flavors to the sauce your building.
Using whole milk is also vital to this recipe. You’re building layers of bold, vibrant flavors and you want to develop a rich, hearty sauce. Whole milk is more satiating and less likely to curdle in the pan. Plus, it will add a rich creamy texture to your Ragu Bolognese recipe that you just won’t be able to achieve with skim milk.
You’ll want to keep your Ragu Bolognese refrigerated in an airtight container with a secure lid. I like to use a large Tupperware dish, but a Ziploc bag will work if you need to save room.
Storing your Ragu Bolognese in single-serve portions makes it easier to take for brown bag lunches or to pull out a little at a time when little tummies come rumbling! -And trust me – If you make it, they will come!
Can You Freeze This?
Yes!! You can absolutely freeze this. Making Ragu Bolognese recipe is such a treat, but it does take a little time. I love making a double batch and tossing half of it in the freezer.
All those intense flavors really get a chance to develop and mature. Besides, it’s just so much easier to pull a dish like this out of the freezer and slow thaw it for dinner the next day.
The family gets to enjoy a hearty robust meal that is totally nutritious and it’s ready to go when you are!
Make Ahead Tips
Prepping just makes everything easier during the week. I get it. You can tackle this dish a couple of different ways to save some time. The beef and pork can certainly be cooked ahead of time and stored in the fridge or frozen, depending on how far ahead.
The veggies can be chopped and stored in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. Unfortunately, there isn’t really any way to get around the slow-simmer time and still build those delicious layers of flavor.
However, you can cook the entire dish and freeze it instead of serving it. Freeze it in dinner-sized portions or even a casserole dish to make it easier to heat up. Just take it out and pop it in the oven to heat it up.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
According to the USDA, your Ragu Bolognese will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator if properly stored. Observe the 2-hour rule for serving for food safety. Keeping foods properly chilled is the best way to prevent bacterial growth.
The FDA recommends keeping your fridge set at or below 40-degrees Fahrenheit for optimal food storage.
This Ragu Bolognese recipe is so incredibly tasty that you won’t want to change it too much, but it is totally up to your discretion.
One really easy way to change up your Ragu Bolognese is to choose a different pasta. Ragu is actually more of a meat sauce than a tomato sauce and wider shaped pasta, possibly even tubes, make the perfect vehicle for it. Many people think that larger pasta tastes better with the hearty meat sauce of Ragu Bolognese recipe.
You can also use this recipe to make other dishes and turn them up to the ump-teeth degree. Lasagna, for instance, is incredible with this Ragu Bolognese recipe. The savory cheese blended with the rich flavors of the sauce make the perfect passengers for a magic ride on those wide lasagna noodles.
Can I Change This To A Taco Flavored Pasta?
If taco is your thing then do not hesitate. Just add the taco seasoning after you have cooked the meat and continue with the recipe as normal. Pair it with a crisp green side salad and serve it as taco pasta for a deeply satisfying meal your family will ask for over and over again.
You can also get some of those jumbo shells, you know the larger versions of conchiglie, to make taco stuffed shells. Add a little cheese, garnish with basil and serve with garlic bread. There aren’t even words for the deliciousness that abounds.
What Other Recipes with Ground Beef I Can Try?
Ragu Bolognese is fantastic, to say the least, but sometimes you just need a quick and easy ground beef recipe! That’s when it is beefaroni to the rescue.
It is a wholesome timeless classic that the kids will love, and you’ll feel great about feeding them. It’ll make you forget Chef Boyardee!
Can This Recipe Be Made Into A Casserole?
Uh, yeah! Ragu Bolognese makes an incredible casserole. Put it in a baking dish and cover it with cheese. It works best with mostaccioli but I’m telling you something magical happens!
Use can also use this recipe to make stuffed cannelloni pasta for an easy pinch of variety. Viva Italia!
Can I Use A Different Type Of Pasta For This Recipe?
Sure, use any pasta you like for your Ragu Bolognese. I prefer spaghetti but that is just my personal choice. Fettuccine is a fantastic stand-in because it has plenty of valuable real estate to transport that delicacy of a meat sauce.
Rigatoni and ziti also work really well with this recipe. That fun tubular pasta is the perfect partner for your bold, hearty meat sauce and you may not even need a bib! Just kidding!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 1/3 cups celery chopped
- 1 1/3 cups carrots chopped
- 1 pound ground beef chuck
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- black pepper
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes including all liquid
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds dry measure spaghetti or like shaped pasta
- In a large, very heavy bottom 5 quart pan heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat and stir until combined. Cook onion, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add celery and carrot to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat all the veggies well with oil mixture.
- Add the ground beef and pork and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon and cooking until the meat are no longer red or raw.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the milk and nutmeg. Simmer gently, adjusting heat lower as needed to maintain a gentle simmer, stirring frequently, until most of the milk has evaporated, about 1 hour. (Hazan says until the milk is completely gone but I simmered it until the meat was still moist and there was a little bit of liquid left in the pan.)
- Add the wine to the pan and continue to gently simmer as before, stirring often for about 1 1/4 hours. (Again, Hazan says until the milk is completely gone but I simmered it until the meat was still moist and there was a little bit of liquid left in the pan.)
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes and stir well to combine. Adjust heat as necessary to maintain the"laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface."
- Continue to cook, uncovered for 3 hours, stirring as needed. If sauce begins to dry out, the fat will separate from the meat. Add 1/2 cup of water as needed to keep the sauce from scorching and sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to hot, just cooked and drained pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve.
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Homemade pasta dishes have always been the doorway to grandma’s kitchen. The tempting smell of that robust sauce is almost too much sometimes. When you are ready for a delicious trip down memory lane to satisfy that pasta craving, you want a recipe that will deliver old-world flavor right to your kitchen table.
These homemade pasta recipes will do the trick! Try them one at a time or put them all on the menu rotation.
- Cacio E Pepe
- Pasta Primavera
- Pizza Pasta
- Cajun Pasta
Ragu Bolognese is a wholesome concoction of rich beautiful meatiness and an aromatic flavorful sauce with layers of flavor that satiate the soul from deep within. It’s one of those homemade pasts recipes that bring families together for miles of smiles.
This is one of my favorite pasta dishes of all-time and I just know that you are going to love it too! This is a special dish that the family will ask for all the time.
Source: Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking