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Ragù alla bolognese from Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Italy Food and Stories

2010 March 2

Spaghetti Bolognese: Australia’s national dish? Some might say yes, Poh from Masterchef might say no! Some might say it’s the ultimate comfort food: pasta, tomatoey goodness. In this sudden turn to cooler weather here in Sydney, we were looking for good old fashioned spag bol, and this has to be possibly the best recipe I’ve tried yet.

Mr Locatelli is very precise with his instructions, and the simplicity of this sauce is in stark contrast to some of the recipes or thrown together versions of a bolognese I’ve come across, that include things like, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and of course tomato sauce. What results from this recipe is a beautiful, creamy, tomatoey sauce that is so deeply flavoured that it sent us both into raptures.  For this recipe please use the best ingredients you can afford, it really does make  a difference to the outcome, though it seems counter intuitive for such a typically standard dish that so many of us eat all the time.  It’s really a revelation to cook a  carefully considered recipe that yields such a result from an old faithful.

Ragù alla Bolognese

  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • Sprig of rosemary, sage, and I added some fresh oregano, tied together (I had nothing to tie it together)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 200ml of red wine
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 400ml tomato passata
  • salt and pepper
  • pasta for 3
  • freshly grated pecorino or parmesan

Make sure your mince is bought to room temperature, so it sears rather than stews when it goes into the pan

Heat the oil in a wide bottomed pan, add the veggies, herbs, whole garlic cloves and sweat over high heat for 5-8 minutes without allowing it to colour (You need to keep stirring)

Season the meat with salt and pepper and add to the pan of vegetables making sure that the meat covering the base of the pan. Leave for about 5-6 minutes, so that the meat seals underneath and heats through completely, before you start stirring (otherwise it will ooze protein and liquid and boil rather than sear). Take care that the vegetables don’t burn – add a little oil if necessary. Mine burned. Maybe turn down the heat a stitch.

Stir the meat and vegetables every few minutes for about 10-12 minutes, until the meat starts to stick to the pan. At this point, the meat is ready to take the wine.

Add the wine and let it reduce right down to virtually nothing, then add the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.

Add the passata with about a cup of water. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 30-45 minutes adding a little more water if necessary, until you have a thick sauce.

When you’re ready to serve, boil up the pasta (Giorgio recommends tagliatelle or papparedelle or a short pasta), drain, reserving the cooking water. Add the pasta to the ragù, and toss well, adding some of the cooking water, if necessary to loosen the sauce. Serve with freshly grated cheese.

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15 Responses leave one →
  1. March 2, 2010

    Definite comfort food for me =) Cooler weather and warming, fragrant foods – mmmm!
    .-= mademoiselle délicieuse´s last blog ..Epicure Recipe Card #16: Prawn & Lime Lollipops =-.

  2. March 3, 2010

    comfort food indeed. looks great 🙂
    .-= Simon Food Favourites´s last blog ..Home Cooking: Chicken in Foil Dinner with Canned Mushroom Soup (2 Mar 2010) =-.

  3. pommiefoodie permalink
    March 3, 2010

    Ah! Good, old fashioned Autumn food!

  4. March 3, 2010

    I agree it has be to a major contender for the ultimate comfort food!

    And next to impossible to enjoy without a glass of red, particularly since it goes in the sauce!

    .-= Joanne @ secondhelping´s last blog ..Who’s a silly sausage? =-.

  5. March 3, 2010

    Ooh that looks delicious,
    definitely cold weather comfort food.
    .-= Kristy @ ksayerphotography´s last blog .. =-.

  6. March 3, 2010

    Oh wow! That looks amazing! Such perfect comfort food.
    .-= Betty @ The Hungry Girl´s last blog ..Mizuya Japanese Restaurant & Karaoke, Sydney =-.

  7. March 4, 2010

    Wish i could just reach in and grab that plate of your ragu now! It looks divine!
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..My first TV gig =-.

  8. March 4, 2010

    oooooh that looks so good! Great hearty comfort food 🙂
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..It’s SHOWTIME! =-.

  9. March 4, 2010

    I haven’t had bolognese in ages. It is a definite favourite and something that every Australian must know how to cook.
    .-= Mark @ Cafe Campana´s last blog ..My First Post – Steak Tacos With Pica De Gallo =-.

  10. March 5, 2010

    Ragu is just amazing. My friends and I were just talking about the perfect pasta dish and we both agree that anything to saucy is not right. This is perfecet.
    .-= Katherine´s last blog ..Flying Fajita Sistas =-.

  11. Anthony permalink
    March 9, 2010

    No milk? Lynne Kasper’s recipes in The Splendid Table always add milk and I think the one really successful bolognese I made involved milk. But I’ll give this a try

  12. May 1, 2010

    Thanks for alerting me to this Reem – I am about to hit the stores and prepare this. I see you’ve used a Pino Noir (in the photo) I have a good Shiraz which I plan to use.

    I do like the Delia Smith version that @kategroom also shared – but requires a few more unusual ingredients. I will try both in time.


  13. Jimmy permalink
    September 29, 2013

    I’ve cooked this dish according to this recipe (well, actually from Locatelli’s book); and it was by fàr the best “spag bol” I ever tasted. And I’ve eaten a lót, both locally and in Italy. If you want to get knocked out your socks by a traditional dish you think is só simple and impossible to get wrong; prepare it this way and know you actually never had the real deal before 🙂

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  1. How to make perfect bolognese | The Guardian Reader
  2. How to make perfect bolognese | The Long Good Read

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