Go ahead, it’s only Bolognese sauce! This is ragu bolognese recipe my version with chicken livers and more. Here’s a bit of background on the famous ragu and my audible interpretation of it for the Sunday night game. Classic cin cin and hail to the Redskins!
Bolognese is a ragu made for farms and palaces
Ragu bolognese is dish that knows no bounds. It is a ragu on pasta that is cherished by those that are the salt of the earth to the royal that rule the earth (and everyone & really everything in between). Ragu bolognese is a legendary dish that is not just part of the city it is from – Bologna – but defines the red city’s identity. It is for this reason a true ragu alla bolognese is a certified art and why those that put their own touches onto the classic version are met with snarls and mean stare downs.
Bolognese is one serious sauce. It evolved from the meat stews that were popular and highly mentioned in Renaissance cookbooks. Learn more here. In its essence, a bolognese is a meat sauce that is simmer to a delicious perfection in which complex flavors are cultured and a proper thickness is developed. The emphasis is the meat, not the tomato. And please, this ragu is never, ever served with spaghetti. The people of Bologna would have to kick you in the behind if you did. While one may play around with the ragu itself, I’m cool with that, one should not mess with what the ragu is served over – which either has to be tagliatelle and/or lasagna. These two pastas are the proper way to enjoy the beauty of this meaty, creamy, velvety-silky ragu.
List of ingredients for ragu bolognese
- Olive oil
- Butter (life is better with butter)
- 1 red onion diced
- 2 stalks of celery minced
- 2 carrots minced
- Garlic minced – 5-7 cloves (food is not real food in my playbook without it)
- Chicken livers – 3-4 pieces (keeps the defense guessing what the “secret” ingredient is)
- Pacnetta minced – 3 oz
- Ground pork – 1 lb (Redskins fans like their pigs …. in drag)
- Ground beef (pref chuck or something on the fattier side) – 2 lb
- Dry white wine – 1.5 cups (don’t go for a hail mary, a $10 bottle will do)
- Tomato paste – 2 tubes of 2 smaller cans
- Whole milk – 2 cups (like a good O-line, it should not be skim or part milk)
- Nutmeg / stick of cinnamon
Recipe and steps for ragu bolognese
Seasoning is very important, so make sure to season with some salt at each stage of cooking (but don’t go too heavy with it).
Heat a decently large sized pot over medium-high heat. Once warm, add enough olive oil and butter (50/50) to saute and sweat a good amount of vegetables. Add the diced red onions and allow to sweat for 5-10 mins. Then proceed to add the carrots and celery. Allow all of these vegetables the time to release some of their water and become soft. Adding salt helps in this process. Add the garlic once the other vegetables start turning soft. I like to stir the veggies a healthy amount in this stage.
Move the vegetable mixture to one side of pot. Add the chicken livers and allow them to slightly brown. Then go ahead and start mixing the livers into the vegetables. I love the hidden offal taste the livers provide. It is subtle and truly makes this version of bolognese extremely rich and deep in flavors. Offal makes it all good and is regaining its popular again. Then again move the liver vegetable mixture to one side of the pot and throw in the pancetta. Allow the pancetta to melt and then stir into everything else. After a few minutes of cooking, transfer this mixture, with all of the juices to another pot or plate and allow it to sit.
Throw in the ground pork into the hot pot and allow it to brown. I like pressing down the meat with a spatula and to break it apart with it. Once all browned, at least 5-10 minutes, transfer into the same vessel with the liver pancetta mixture. Then toss in the ground beef into the pot and allow it to brown too. Once all brown, triumphantly return the other mixture into the pot and toss it all around. Again, make sure to slightly season with salt along the way to help draw out deliciousness and moisture.
Now it is time to pick up the fun (and test one’s patience levels). Add in the wine and allow it to almost completely evaporate. Given all the meat juices and wine in the pot at this point, this step can take up to 30 mins. We want the alcohol in the the wine to completely cook off while leaving the fruity sweetness behind and lingering in the meat mixture.
After almost all the wine & juices have been boiled out (over medium heat), stir into the meat compilation the tomato paste and milk. This will instantly change the profile of the sauce, taking it to a velvety & creamy consistency. It will also dampen the meaty smell of the ragu and make it more sweet and mouth watering. At this point, add in any extras (such as thyme, nutmeg, a stick of cinnamon but again all optional), season with salt & pepper, and allow it to gently simmer for 1-2 hours.
After a couple of hours, the ragu will transform further into a meaty, unctuous, creamy & thick concoction. Just look at the pretty sexy streams of animal fat in the ragu!
While this meditates and becomes ultimately divine, prepare the water for the tagliatelle. I like buying the nests of tagliatelle from the grocery store. Make sure there is plenty of water and once it is up to a boil, throw in tons of salt. Then add the pasta and be sure to cook al dente. In another pot, spoon in some of the ragu all bolognese – just enough for the amount of pasta one will be serving that night. Once the pasta is al dente, use a pair of tongs to toss the pasta into the pan of reserved bolognese. Allow the pasta to marry with the ragu and keep stirring and tossing. Add a bit of parmesan cheese at this point and continue tossing over the heat.
Once perfect, and you’ll know when you know, you’ll be able to hear it through the slopping of the pasta & ragu, serve it up to your friends. Hail to the Redskins. Serve it with a bit more ragu on top of tagliatelle and parmesan. Thank you Bologna and for your ragu bolognese.