Italian food expert Anna del Conte shows you how to make the perfect ragù. This meat sauce is the perfect example of Bolognese cooking: rich yet well balanced, lavish yet restrained, meaty yet fresh-tasting. This recipe follows closely the precepts of a classic ragù. It is important to chop the vegetables finely, so that they are the size of grains of rice.
- 60g/2¼oz butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- 60g/2¼oz unsmoked pancetta, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, very finely chopped
- 1 carrot, very finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, very finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 400g/14oz lean chuck or braising beef, coarsely minced
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 150ml/5fl oz red wine, such as Sangiovese or Barbera
- 2 pinches grated nutmeg
- 150ml/5fl oz beef stock
- 150ml/5fl oz whole milk
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- tagliatelle, to serve
Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then remove it. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the onion and, when it begins to soften, stir in the carrot, celery and bay. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the beef, turn the heat up to high and cook until medium-brown and nearly crisp, crumbling it in the pot using a fork. You need a high heat so that the meat browns rather than stews, but be careful not to let it become too brown and hard.
Add the tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine, nutmeg and stock. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to very low, so that the mixture reduces very slowly.
Set the lid askew over the pan and cook for about 2 hours, adding a couple of tablespoons of milk from time to time. By the end all the milk should have been added and absorbed, and the ragù should be rich with the texture of thick soup.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. The ragù is now ready. Boil the tagliatelle and serve with the ragù.
The best ragù alla bolognese