Ragù alla bolognese is traditionally served with fresh egg tagliatelle (not, as some would have it, spaghetti)! The secret to a good ragù alla bolognese is ‘time’. This is not one for a quick evening meal, best you leave it for a leisurely Sunday lunch. It’s a substantial plate so you need only follow with a simple green salad and perhaps a platter of cheese.
The recipe uses milk in the cooking, which some might find a little odd. But the end, in this case, justifies the means. One word of warning; the aroma as it cooks will test your patience. You have to be firm. Open a bottle of wine, slice some salami and prosciutto and wait it out. The result, in my view, is without a doubt one of Italy’s greatest culinary achievements. But what would you expect coming from a city nicknamed ‘the Fat’!
Cooking and preparation time: approx 2.5 hours
300g beef mince
5 tablespoons of tomato passata
½ glass of dry white wine
1 glass of full fat milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Finely chop the pancetta with a half-moon chopping knife and place it into a heavy-based (terracotta, if you have it) frying pan. Over a very gentle heat allow the fat from the pancetta to melt.
While you are waiting, finely chop the carrot, celery and onions. When the fat has melted add the vegetables to the pan and allow to soften. Next add the beef mince and fry until it begins to colour (but not brown). Finally, add the wine and tomato sauce, stir and leave it to simmer on a gentle heat for approximately two hours.
At this point you might want to think about opening that bottle of wine. But whatever you do, don’t forget about the sauce and let it dry out. Check every 20 minutes and as it begins to dry, stir in a little of the milk. You should get through a good glass full. Finally check for seasoning.
Serve the sauce over fresh egg tagliatelle (about 80gms per person). You can buy this at the supermarket or, alternatively, for a real treat make it yourself while you are waiting for the sauce to cook. It’s worth it!