Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sunday Dinners...Tagliatelle With Ragu Bolognese II

When my brother and his family came down for the Labor Day weekend, I was surprised that he requested a Ragu Bolognese for Sunday dinner.  I was all ready for beans and ribs or something else on the grill, but no, this is what he wanted.  I had my Marcella Hazan cookbook on hand and decided to make her sauce, rather than the one I usually make which is posted on Lindaraxa's Garden.  After the accolades I received, I may just have to switch recipes.

In order to be successful with this reipe, you must follow the guidelines below and it is essential that the sauce simmer very lightly for at least 3 hours.  By very lightly I mean, a bubble here a bubble there, usually on simmer or below.  Otherwise the sauce will be too dry at the end. 

Marcella Hazan
Bolognese Meat Sauce

Printable Recipe

Yield 2 heaping cups, for about 6 servings and 1 1/2 pounds pasta

Time At least 4 hours


-The meat should not be from too lean a cut; the more marbled it is, the sweeter the ragu will be. The most desirable cut of beef is the neck portion of the chuck.

-Add salt immediately when sauteeing the meat to extract its juices for the subsequent benefit of the sauce.

-Cook the meat in milk before adding wine and tomatoes to protect from the acidic bite of the latter.

-Do not use demiglace or other concentrates that tip the balance of flavors toward harshness

-Use a pot that retains heat. Earthenware is preferred in Bologna and by most cooks in Emilia Romagna, but enameled cast-iron pans or a pot whose heavy bottom is composed of layers of steel alloys are fully satisfactory.

-Cook, uncovered, at the merest simmer for a long, long time; no less than three hours is necessary, more is better.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta

1/2 cup chopped onion

2/3 cup chopped celery

2/3 cup chopped carrot

3/4 pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)


Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill

1 cup whole milk

Whole nutmeg

1 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta,  preferably tagliattele

Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table


1. Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.

2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.

3. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. (this will take awhile) Add a tiny grating -- about 1/8 teaspoon -- of nutmeg, and stir.

4. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

5. Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

Cooks Note:  I doubled the recipe but kept the milk at one cup as well as the wine.  I also added the entire can of Cento San Marzano which i think is 28 ozs.

Source: "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" (Knopf)

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