Tagliatelle alla Bolognese is made up of two parts
- Ragù alla Bolognese (also called ‘Bolognese Sauce’)
- Tagliatella (the Pasta).
In the U.S., you’ll often find ‘Spaghetti alla Bolognese’, however, that’s actually not the correct name or noodle for this sauce. In fact, spaghetti alla bolognese doesn’t actually exist in Italy. The correct name is Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. Read more about the confusion on this dish here.
What is Ragù alla Bolognese (Bolognese Sauce)?
Ragù alla Bolognese is a traditional ragù (meat sauce) composed of minced meat, white wine, soffrito (onions, celery, carrot), and a splash of tomato. The dish is native to Emilia Romagna, a northern-central region of Italy.
There’s a lot of misconception surrounding Ragù alla Bolognese. The first is that it requires many ingredients. Like most Italian dishes, more does not equal better. Keep it simple, there’s no need to add everything in your refrigerator to the pot. The second misconception is that Ragù alla Bolognese is ‘hard’ to make. As long as you have patience, you will be able to perfect any ragù.
For an incredible Ragù, simple high-quality ingredients and patience are most important. Your patience will help thicken up the sauce because ‘melting’ the meat is key. Don’t rush the sauce, unless you want a sad and soggy meal.
Bolognese sauce is traditionally served with tagliatelle egg noodles, hence the name Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. However, the sauce is also served with other types of pasta such as lasagna or the typical poor dish of the past, polenta. You can also find Ragù alla Bolognese served with spaghetti (called ‘spaghetti alla bolognese’) everywhere except Italy, it’s even sold in cans. Although common in other parts of the world, ‘Spaghetti all bolognese’ is not a reflection of Emilian cuisine and doesn’t exist in Italy.
Emilians have always preferred the authentic, original tagliatelle: egg dough, usually fresh, vs. durum wheat semolina pasta, generally dried. They often make the pasta fresh but you can find tagliatelle at your local super market. We rarely make pasta, so almost always buy. Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging for cooking.
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Recipe (Ragù alla Bolognese)
EXAU Olive Oil
In the U.S., you’ll often find ‘Spaghetti alla Bolognese’, however, that’s actuallynot the correct name or noodle for this sauce. In fact, spaghetti alla bolognese doesn’t actually exist in Italy. The correct name is Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. Read more about the confusion on this dish here.
- 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil (for finishing)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 11 oz ground beef
- 5.2 oz guanciale or bacon
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium carrot
- 2 medium celery
- 3.5 oz tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 350 grams tagliatelle egg noodles
- Cut the carrot, onion, celery, and bacon into 1/4" pieces.
- Put the guanciale/bacon in a medium pot and cover. Cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the fat 'melts'.
- Add the celery, carrot, and onion to make a soffritto. Season with salt and black pepper. Cover with lid.
- When the mixture starts to brown, add the ground beef. Cook on medium heat with lid off for approximately 15 minutes or until the meat starts to sizzle and brown.
- Once the ground beef sizzles and browns, add the wine. Stir, scrapping the bits of meat off the bottom of the pan.
- After the wine evaporates, add the tomato paste, and a half cup of broth. Cook on low heat with lid on for approximately 2 hours. Add more broth every time the sauce gets dry and stir regularly.
- Taste the sauce regularly, add salt and pepper as needed. Watch the sauce closely to make sure it doesn't get too dry and keep stirring. Total cook time for sauce is between 3-6 hours.
- When the ragù is almost ready grate the parmigiano reggiano.
- Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tbsp salt, stir, and then add the tagliatelle egg noodles. Cook pasta 2 minutes before ‘al dente’ (see package for cooking time). Since tagliatelle can cook fast you might need to move quickly. Stir pasta every minute or so.
- Strain pasta and pour into ragù. Turn heat on high. Add another scoop of broth and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes. The pasta will absorb sauce and extra broth.
- Add another ladle of broth if the pasta gets too dry. The sauce should be boiling consistently.
- Cut the heat then add the cheese and stir until fully incorporated. Remove from heat.
- Plate and finish with 1 tsp of olive oil per person. Enjoy!