Sunday, 16 January 2011

Tagliatelle and Bolognese Ragu

During the weekend when I have the time to spend next to the stove I like making this tagliatelle and bolognese ragu.  Obviously, I know many people including me often have pasta and bolognese sauce for something quick to eat in the middle of working week.  But when I have all day, I like to cook it properly which means, cooking it the way I'd like it to be but not necessarily authentic.

For me, bolognese ragu should be a meat sauce with tomato, not a tomato sauce with meat which I often find, even in restaurants.  And cooking bolognese ragu, or any ragu involves three simple steps: browning the mirepoix (fancier and quicker words to say onions, carrots and celery) and the meat, adding and reducing flavourful liquids like wine to build up the layers of flavours and the simmering it gently until the flavours are blended.  Yes, making ragu is time consuming but it is not at all difficult.  Once the sauce is at the simmering stage, there's nothing much to do then stirring it every now and then.  

In my bolognese sauce, I like using the mixture of mince beef, pork and pancetta and my choice for the flavourful liquid is red wine, I like Chianti or Cotes du Rhone.  The tomato element is contributed by tomato paste and in keeping with tradition, I add some milk towards the end of the cooking.

With the ragu, I want to serve it with fresh pasta and again, if you've never tried it, making fresh pasta is easy but it can be quite fiddly, but I suppose there is no point to make fresh pasta if you don't want to enjoy in the whole process.  I find it relaxing and rewarding at the end.

I make my pasta like the Italians do, by putting some flour on a wooden board, crack some eggs onto it, a little salt, extra virgin olive oil and mixing them all together gently starting with a fork and then by hand (clean, of course) and be prepared to get a little messy.  Mix until it became a dough and knead until it's soft and smooth.  This process can be done in a food processor, but it's less fun and more washing-up.

I wrapped the dough tightly in cling and let it rest in the fridge for about half an hour before rolling it with pasta machine and cut into the shape that you require.

Fresh pasta takes a lot less time to cook than dried pasta, so make sure the ragu is ready before you start boiling the pasta.  One last thing, don't serve the ragu on top of the pasta, they must be tossed well together and then serve with grating of parmesan. Enjoy.

Tagliatelle and Bolognese Ragu
Recipe by Me
Serves 4 with second serving for everyone

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 onions, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
80 g pancetta, cut into small cubes
250 g minced beef
500 g minced pork
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3 tablespoon tomato paste
250 ml red wine, like Chianti
500 ml beef stock, home-made/store bought or from a cube
125 ml whole milk
Salt and black pepper, to taste
500 gr tagliatelle, fresh or dried
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Flat leaf parsley,  roughly chopped

Start by making the ragu.  Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the finely chopped vegetables.  Cook until they turn a nice golden colour, stirring occasionally.  Add the pancetta and let it cook for 5 minutes and then add the minced pork, beef and dried oregano and break up the meat with wooden spoon.  Season with salt and pepper as you add more ingredients.  Cook for about 8 minutes until everything turn into a rich brown colour.

Add the wine and let it evaporate a little bit and pour in the stock and tomato paste.  At this point the ragu will look very watery, but don't panic in the slightest.  Bring the ragu to a boil and then simmer, partially covered for a couple of hours.  Stirring every now and then.

After two hours the sauce should be thick in texture and rich in colour.  Add a bit of water or more stock if it looks too dry.  Add the milk and let it simmer for another 15 minutes.  Give the ragu a taste and adjust the seasoning.  Turn off the heat and cover to keep it warm.

Meanwhile, in a pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta.  Fresh pasta should take only about 3 - 4 minutes to cook.  If you're using dried pasta, check the instruction at the back of the packet.  Once cooked, drain the pasta and put in the serving bowl.  I like to toss the pasta in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil or butter (your choice) before tossing it with the sauce and some chopped parsley until well combined.  Serve with some grating of cheese and enjoy.


  1. Wow, looks amazing! Is rolling the pasta out difficult? I don't have a pasta maker but I'd love to try it some time.

  2. I want a plate of that, looks and sounds so delicious, so good with those are right, nothing better than homemade pasta, when ya got the time - oh, and about googling the chicken (sounds vulgar doesn't it), I had to go deep to check it out but it was there, a spin-off on a hot/spicy chicken, a poor one at that....

  3. I finally have some free time to check out your blog again. I've always wanted to make a bolognese sauce. It always looks soooo good!! I must try it!

  4. never made fresh pasta... this will be my 'must do' for 2011... but i'm right there with you when it comes to the meat ragu... I can totally imagine being with you in that kitchen having the day of all days! lovely x

  5. That is quite impressive. Making the pasta fresh. It looks spectacular, especially with the variety of meats.

  6. Gorgeous Michael!
    BTW have you seen this?

  7. It's as if I were destined to find you: we got a pasta machine for Chrsitmas and need to break its back.

    Will you be re-inventing the lamington this year? Dom and I are going to gatecrash Nigel Slater's house after he's done with his if you fancy coming for the ride.

  8. Michael-Did you change your blog layout, and brightened it up? or is it my eyes?...anyway, it is so impressive to see how you made your home made tagliatelle, and Bolognese Ragu.
    Love your own take on the Bolognese, and you are absolutely right, in most restaurants, it's more sauce, and less meat, when really, it's all about the thick meat sauce with less sauce.
    Beautiful!!!...and amazingly delicious!!!

  9. Your fresh past looks wonderful! I tried it once but I used semolina flour and I didn't like the texture too much. Seeing your fresh pasta today made me want to try it again. Next time, I try it with regular flour!

  10. Wow, this really does look fantastic. I love a good Bolognese ragu but often find them too watery, not meaty or rich enough or just bland and boring. This one seems to break all of those things. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Michael, that looks amazing!!! I applaud you on the doing things the traditional way. I never seem to have the patience to make my own least not without the help of my stand mixer with pasta attachments!! :) I'm also glad you know a good bolognese is a meat sauce not a tomato sauce!!
    Can I have a plate of that now please????

  12. That looks fabulous, Michael! I love the flavor combos in the recipe and it turned out perfectly...thick and not runny, with your delicious homemade noodles. I am impressed!

  13. wow, that is a lovely from scratch meal. Once that I have never made either, I love serving something like this for an evening dinner with friends. This will be on my radar.

    thanks for sharing. I love to make my treats with flour and eggs right on my counter just like you...makes it more fun

  14. Lovely! this is really great, pics are wonderful and I like the way you made pasta! Fresh pasta truly gives better results!!!

    Keep up the good work,
    thank you for your comments, as always

  15. Katrina: rolling the pasta isn't difficult at all, if you're using a pasta machine. But I'm sure rolling pin works too.

    Drick: I'll brave myself and start googling then... :)

    AJ: Welcome back. Hope classes are doing great. Yes, do try it.

    Dom: Do try make fresh pasta. It's easy and rewarding. Well, when are you coming then? hehe...

    Rick: Thanks! I just love meat really...

    Joy: Thank you. Yes, I've seen the Forever Nigella project and will be joining the fun soon! :)

    Mr.P: I never make lamingtons but will be giving it a go. Sure, give me the date! What about Belgravia, to Nigella's Palace? hehe...

    Elisabeth: No, I haven't change a thing. Still the same blog. The bolognese was delicious indeed.

    Mausi: Use Grade 00 flour. I think it's the best to make pasta. After rolling, I the coat it with semolina.

    Natalie: Do give this a try. I think you'll enjoy it.

    Jenn: Come over and I'll give you a plateful.

    Barbara: Thank you. I think bolognese sauce should be quite thick and not just tomato sauce.

    Jennifer: Love the counter. Yes, it's fun!

    Annalisa: Grazie. I'm glad you approved.

  16. I prefer the meat sauce with a little tomato but Americans seem to prefer the tomato sauce with a bit of meat. Sad. I do enjoy making this at home too though. I will have to try your recipe next time. Thanks for sharing!

  17. fresh pasta is the real deal. So much better than dried!

  18. I love making's always worth the effort. Your dish looks lovely!

    And you're totally right about the "meat sauce with tomato" concept.

  19. Making ragu (with my grandma old recipe that takes hours) is something I love to do too on weekends. I can buy tomato sauce in can/bottles but not ragu. I make a lot and I freeze it but I love it homemade...such a huge difference. Great job on the tagliatelle too!

  20. I love making homemade pasta...Both your pasta and bolognese look amazing :)