Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese is made up of two parts: Ragù alla Bolognese (also called ‘Bolognese Sauce’) and Tagliatella (the Pasta). In the U.S., we have a habit of calling this beautiful dish ‘Pasta alla Bolognese’ or ‘Spaghetti alla Bolognese’. That is not the correct name. In fact, neither of those actually exist in Italy. The correct name is Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. Read more about the confusion on this dish here.
Ragù alla Bolognese (Bolognese Sauce) Explained
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.
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Explained
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. We like this brand for tagliatelle. Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging for cooking.
Serves 4 people
- 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil (for finishing)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 11 oz ground beef
- 5.2 oz bacon
- 1 carrot
- 1 (medium) onion
- 1-2 celery stalks
- 3.5 oz tomato paste
- black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups broth
- 350 grams tagliatelle egg noodles (0.75lb)
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese Recipe
- Cut the carrot, onion, celery, and bacon into 1/4″ pieces.
- Put the bacon in a medium pot and cover. Cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the fat ‘melts’.
- When the bacon fat melts, add the celery, carrot, and onion. Season with salt and black pepper. Cover with lid.
- When the mixture starts to brown, add the ground beef. Cook on medium heat for approx. 15 minutes or until the meat starts to sizzle and brown.
- Once the ground beef sizzles and browns, add the half cup of wine.
- After the wine evaporates add the tomato paste, and a half cup of broth. Cook on low heat for approx. 2 hours.
- Add more broth every time the sauce gets dry & 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 & keep stirring. Total cook time for sauce is between 3-6 hours.
- While the ragù is cooking grate the parmigiano reggiano.
- Fill a medium pot with water, add 1 tbsp. salt, and place on high heat. Once the water starts to boil add the tagliatelle egg noodles. Add pasta to water, stirring every 2 minutes. Cook pasta 2 minutes before ‘al dente’ (see package for cooking time).
- 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.
- Add broth again if pasta gets too dry.
- During the last minute cooking pasta add the cheese and stir until it melts. Remove from heat.
- Plate and finish with 1 tsp of olive oil per person. Enjoy!