Tagliatelle Bolognese

Tagliatelle Bolognese using Barilla Tagliatelle

Slow-cooked meat sauces, called ragùs, are made all over Italy, though the best known comes from Bologna in Emilia-Romagna and is the ancestor of Australia’s beloved ‘spag bol’. Not that it would ever be served with dried spaghetti in Emilia-Romagna where fresh egg pasta, like tagliatelle and fettuccine, is more typical. There are as many recipes for ragù alla Bolognese as there are Mamas and Nonnas cooking it, but to prevent anyone straying too far from tradition the Italian Academy of Cuisine codified the ‘official’ recipe in 1982, and that’s what my version is based on. The secret Ingredients are milk (to balance the tomatoes’ acidity) and time (as a long simmer is essential). Use good Italian canned tomatoes, such as Mutti, and a good red wine too, like Pike’s Premio Sangiovese. Finish the bottle with dinner, if it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with. You’ll find all you need to know about cooking pasta perfectly here (scroll down to Q&A). Buon appetito!

Serves 8 as a starter

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 200g pancetta, finely diced
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1 small brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 400g beef mince
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 400g Italian canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup water, more or less
  • ½ cup milk
  • 500g tagliatelle or pappardelle
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving 
Method
  1. Place oil, pancetta and butter in a frying pan over medium heat and cook for a few minutes until butter and fat melt.
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery and a good pinch of salt and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, until tender.
  3. Push vegetables and pancetta to the sides of the pan and add mince to the centre, pressing it out over the base of the pan. Increase heat to high and cook for a couple of minutes, until well coloured.
  4. Turn it over and cook for another minute or 2 to brown the other side, then stir to break it up and combine with the vegetables.
  5. Add wine and cook for a minute or 2 until it evaporates, stirring well to further break up the meat and remove any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Stir in tomato and ½ cup of the water, bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat to as low as possible and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding a little more water if it becomes too dry.
  7. Stir in milk, taste, add salt and pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes or so.
  8. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to the boil, add fettuccine and cook until just tender.
  9. Drain, toss with sauce and serve immediately topped with Parmigiano. 

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