Adaptation of Classic Ragù alla Bolognese

Have I ever told you that above all Italian pasta sauce my favorite so far was ragù alla Bolognese? No? Well, I just did.

Based on Indonesian adaptation of pasta sauce, I always prefered alla Bolognese first (followed by Aglio e Olio). And even though the only nearly-original pasta alla Bolognese experience that I had was from local Italian restaurant in Bandung, but the tangy taste kinda caught me in the heart. It has fresh sweet and sour yet meaty flavors that I love, so much. Honestly, I always wandered how the original ragù tasted like. If I were going to take my Master Degree in Milan two years ago, I would probably took a leap and stayed in Bologna until I could make the classic ragù properly. But since I was not, I googled about ragù alla Bolognese instead and found a classic recipe of it.

Evidently the ingredients consist of minced beef, pancetta (Italian bacon), tomato, carrot, celery stalk, milk, stock, tomato paste, red/white wine and olive oil. No herbs added, unlike in the pasta alla Bolognese that I had tasted at the local Italian restaurant (nor in the bottled ready-to-wear Bolognese sauce I used to buy).

Curious that I am, I tried to make it my own this morning. But I had to alter the recipe using information I gathered from the internet because I don't eat pork nor have wine. So, basically, this one is 'pork and alcohol free' version of classic ragù alla Bolognese.

Adaptation of classic ragù alla Bolognese. Pork and alcohol free.

Classic Ragù alla Bolognese
(Adapted from Accademia Italiana della Cucina and GialloZafferano)

  • 100 g carrot
  • 100 g celery stalk (use the yellow one if possible)
  • 100 g onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 600 g minced beef (as substitution for 250 g beef, 250 g pork and 100 g dried pancetta/bacon)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red/white wine vinegar to taste (diluted in 100 ml of water, as substitution for 250 ml red/white wine)
  • 30 g tomato
  • 250 ml beef broth
  • 250 ml whole milk (boiled until half reduced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation methods:
  1. Finely chop carrot, celery and onion together.
  2. Heat the skillet in medium, pour in the olive oil. Melt butter then stir in chopped carrot, celery and onion. Cook for 10 minutes in low heat.
  3. Add the minced beef, stir evenly and continue cook until caramelized.
  4. Pour in the diluted vinegar and cook until half liquid evaporated. Stir regularly.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to boil. Take the tomato core out then slice the peel diagonally and vertically. Blanch in the hot boiling water, drain and move to cool water. Remove the peel and seed, then squeeze into chunks. Mix with beef broth.
  6. Pour in tomato and broth mixture into the skillet.
  7. Simmer for two hours, keep stir regularly and add reduced milk little by little. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Yield 6 serves.

From what I've read, ragù alla Bolognese is essentially a meat-based sauce. So supposedly the beef and the pork can be substitute with other animal flesh used for food. But when I tried to make the chicken version of this ragù for a friend who does not eat beef, it was okay but never as good as the beef one. This make me wandered, again, how great it would be with pork and pancetta. And real wine.. Oh my, this just make me more eager to experience Italy!

Penne alla Bolognese with chicken. (I like the version with herb better. So I served my own pasta alla Bolognese with fresh basil and oregano leaves, plus some red chili and fried garlic topping.)

This post is also linked to Simple Lives Thursday #49.
The food blog event is hosted by five awesome Iowa bloggers, Diana, Annette, Alicia, Wardeh and Mare.

This post is also linked to Presto Pasta Nights #220.
This week's PPN is hosted by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. (Link to the full round up of superb pasta recipes from around the globe will be attached soon.)