When I think about Ragù, many things come to my mind:
- Waking up on Sunday morning with the scent of soffritto sizzling in the pot
- The slow, delicate simmering sound
- My mom’s lasagne
- Sunday lunch with the family
- Fresh pasta
- Cleaning the plate with bread so that not even a tiny bit of Ragù would go to waste
- Dipping the bread in the pot because it’s so good you can’t just stop eating it.
Ragù is a Sunday thing, Ragù is a family thing, Ragù is a delicious thing.
It takes a few ingredients and a few hours to make it. While it’s quite easy to do, not many people have the time anymore to cook it so often. That’s why when I cook it I always make a big batch and then freeze the portions for whenever I crave it.
The word Ragù may not sound familiar since everywhere this sauce is now called Bolognese but I didn’t want to call this recipe Bolognese because, although it looks the same, the recipe and the ingredients are quite different.
Every region has its own recipe, every family has its own recipe. This is my ragù. It comes from a traditional recipe but it’s adapted to my flavors.
The word Ragù comes from the french Ragout which usually indicates meat stewed for many hours in abundant sauce. In Italy it then became the classic sauce for pasta.
The original recipe comes from Emilia Romagna with the classic Bolognese (which is not what you buy in a can) and then the recipe circulated in all the italian regions adapting to the flavors of each family and culture, changing meats and few other ingredients.
Ragù is most commonly served with fresh Tagliatelle or inside lasagne. Each region has it’s own traditional uses: In Emilia Romagna they serve Ragù also with Tortelli (Ravioli), in Tuscany we make Pici al Ragù (see photo below) or potato gnocchi, in Sicily Arancini are stuffed with Ragù and peas, and so on.
Tuscan Ragù Sauce
- 50 g (1/2 cup) Red Onion
- 50 g (1/2 cup) Carrots
- 50 g (1/2 cup) Celery
- 500 g (2 cups) mixed Pork and Beef ground meat
- 250 g (7.5 oz) peeled San Marzano tomatoes (canned is fine too)
- 250 g (1 cup) pureed Tomatoes
- 1/2 glass White Wine
- 1 tbsp Juniper berries (dried)
- Beef Stock
- 3-4 Bay Leaves
- 2-3 tbsp EVO Oil
- 1-2 tsp Sugar
- Salt, Pepper
Start making the soffritto by finely chopping the onion, carrot and celery or if you don't want chunks in the sauce, you can blend them.
Add 2-3 tbsp of EVO oil in a large pot and add the soffritto. Turn on the medium heat and cook until they become really soft (do not brown).
Add the ground meat and turn the heat to high and cook until the meat changes color, then add salt and pepper to season the meat. Finally pour the wine and let evaporate the alcohol.
Turn the heat to low and add the peeled and chopped San Marzano tomatoes and the pureed tomatoes with a couple of ladles of beef stock.
Taste and season accordingly; if necessary, add some sugar to break the acidity of the tomatoes.
Finally, add the bay leaves and the juniper berrier. Mix well with a wooden spoon and cover the pot with the lid. Let it simmer for at least 2 hours stirring every once in a while.
If the sauce reduces too much, add some more beef stock.
You can add 1/2 glass of milk or cream 15 minutes before the cooking time ends to add more creaminess and make the flavors more delicate.
For the recipe of Pici pasta (in the photo above), check my Pici all’Aglione recipe.
Now finally enjoy your pasta with Ragù sauce and pair it with a good red wine.