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The Official Bolognese Sauce Recipe: Ragù alla bolognese in Italian

This recipe was deposited in the Bologna Chamber of Commerce, October 17, 1982, as the Official Bolognese Ragu Recipe (The Bolognese Chapter of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina announced this recipe is the official one on that date.)
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Author Valerie Lugonja via Bologna Chamber of Commerce, Italy


  • 300 g freshly ground beef (neck, shoulder or diaphram are most flavourful cuts)
  • 150 grams pork belly, ground or minced finely (often locals substitute this with ground pork)
  • 50 g each of onion, celery and carrot, finely diced (Soffritto)
  • 30 g triple concentrated tomato paste , or 5 tbsp. sauce (used more for colour than taste, Maribel adds)
  • 100 ml or ½ glass red wine (suggestions for substitutions for non drinkers? I don't know what to use)
  • water to cover mixture (and if I have unused broth or stock in the fridge, I add it to the water, or instead)
  • 215 ml or 1 glass whole milk (only if you use tomato sauce)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Brown meats together in olive oil; add the vegetables and sauté a few minutes, stirring occasionally
  2. When you hear the mixture sizzle, add the red wine over high heat, working to evaporate it quickly
  3. When the meat is well browned, add the tomato paste or sauce and cover with water up to 1 cm above level of mixture
  4. Simmer 2 hours
  5. Add the milk a bit at a time during this two hour time only if you used tomato sauce; do not add any milk at all if you chose to use tomato paste
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Recipe Notes

This sauce is never served with spaghetti! It is served with tagliatelle or fettucine. Mirabel adds reconstituted dried Porcini to the sauce for depth. At home, Mirabel doubles the onion and adds extra tomato sauce for consistency. This day, we used no Porcini and she didn’t use the milk as she used tomato paste. The Bolognese tradition prescribes very long cooking of the sauce (at least 4 to 5 hours) but that is because the meat came from working animals and the muscle fiber required long hours to tenderize it. Today’s farm raised meats do not require such a lengthy tenderizing process.