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Authentic spaghetti Bolognese recipe


  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Beef pasta

A simple, yet authentic Italian pasta dish. Homemade ragu is made with beef mince, tomatoes, mushrooms, beef stock and seasonings, then served on top of spaghetti.

102 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 80g finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 60g finely chopped celery
  • 30g butter
  • 450g lean minced beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • 175g chopped mushrooms
  • 175g tomato puree
  • 600ml beef stock
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 450g spaghetti
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • 4 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese

MethodPrep:45min ›Cook:2hr ›Extra time:2hr45min › Ready in:5hr30min

  1. In a large frying pan, warm olive oil over low heat; saute onion, garlic and celery until onion is transparent.
  2. Stir in butter and increase heat to medium; brown beef until no longer pink. Mix in sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, mint and mushrooms; lower heat and stir for about 3 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine tomato puree and beef stock; pour liquid and basil to pan. Simmer over very low heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil with 3 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Slip spaghetti into water holding on to ends until strands soften a bit. Cook over high heat for 7 to 8 minutes only. When properly cooked, raw taste should be gone but still have a firm texture.
  5. When ready to serve, combine pasta with meat sauce; serve on a warmed plate or bowl topped with parsley and Pecorino Romano cheese.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(99)

Reviews in English (78)

Delicious-21 Jun 2012

I have tried many different recipes for spag bol and this is my least favourite. I just didn't enjoy the flavours at all. I will stick to my own receipe in future.-04 Jan 2013

by DTSCEP

We vacationed in Italy this summer, and had meat sauce that was wonderful and very different from the typical American version; much more meaty with tomato used more as a seasoning. This recipe fulfilled my hopes of being much more like a true Italian meat sauce. It was outstanding and my family loved it! Even my 2 pickiest kiddos who have flatly refused to eat spaghetti in the past gobbled it up. I doubled the recipe, seasoned the meat with some Emeril's essence, added more garlic than called for. Also added a can of tomato sauce in place of one of the cans of beef broth(3 cans beef broth, 1 can tomato sauce). This is our new spaghetti recipe; we absolutely love it! If you like a meaty sauce, you should definitely try this one.-15 Sep 2009


Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine

Put all 4 pounds of ground meat in a large mixing bowl. With your fingers, crumble and loosen it all up then toss and crumble the beef and pork together. Pour the white wine over it, and work all the meat through your fingers again so it’s evenly moistened.

To make the pestata: Cut the bacon or pancetta into 1-inch pieces, and put them in the bowl of a food processor with the peeled garlic. Process them into a fine paste.

Pour the olive oil into a large Dutch oven, and scrape in all of the pestata. Set the pan over medium-high heat, break up the pestata, and stir it around the pan bottom to start rendering the fat. Cook until the fat is rendered, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Stir the minced onions into the fat, and cook for a couple minutes, until sizzling and starting to sweat. Stir in the celery and carrot, and cook until the vegetables are wilted and golden, stirring frequently and thoroughly, over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes or more.

Turn the heat up a notch, push the vegetables off to the side, and plop all the meat into the pan sprinkle the salt on. Give the meat on the pan bottom a few moments to brown, then stir, spread, and toss with a sturdy spoon, mixing the meat into the vegetables and making sure every bit of meat browns and begins releasing fat and juices. Soon the meat liquid will almost cover the meat itself. Cook at high heat, stirring often, until all that liquid has disappeared, even in the bottom of the pan, about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the heat and the width of the pan. Stir occasionally, and as the liquid level diminishes, lower the heat so the meat doesn’t burn.

Warm the broth in a medium saucepan.

When all the meat liquid has been cooked off, pour in the red wine. Cook until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste into a clear space on the pan bottom. Toast a minute in the hot spot, then stir to blend it with the meat, and let it caramelize for 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes slosh the tomato container out with a cup of hot broth and add that. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring the meat, and let the liquid almost boil off, 5 minutes more.

Pour in 2 cups of hot broth, stir well, and add more if needed to cover the meat. Bring it to an active simmer, cover the pan, and adjust the heat to maintain slow, steady cooking, with small bubbles perking all over the surface of the sauce. From this point, the Bolognese should cook for 3 more hours. Check the pot every 20 minutes and add hot broth as needed to cover the meat. The liquid level should be reducing by 1 1/2 to 2 cups between additions. Adjust the heat if the sauce is reducing faster than that or not as fast. Stir often to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn.

During the final interval of cooking, you want to reduce the level of the liquid- once broth, but now a highly developed sauce. At the end, the meat should no longer be covered but appear suspended in a thick, flowing medium. If the meat is still submerged in a lot of liquid, remove the cover completely to cook off moisture quickly. A few minutes before the end of cooking, taste a bit of meat and sauce, and add salt if you want. Grind 1 teaspoon of black pepper right into the sauce, stir it in, and cook about 5 minutes before removing the pan from the heat. If you’ll be using the sauce right away, spoon off the fat from the surface, or stir it in, as is done traditionally. Otherwise, let the sauce cool, then chill it thoroughly and lift off the solidified fat. Store the sauce for several days in the refrigerator, or freeze it (in measured amounts for different dishes) for use within a few months.


After a long and thorough study of oral histories, written documents, poems, stories and ancient recipe books, the Accademia has reconstructed the birth and spread of this dish from the beginning of the 20th century, when the marketing of tuna in oil began and spaghetti also began to be distributed in the north of Italy. Then, the success of this preparation grew quickly because it didn’t require particularly expensive ingredients and addressed Catholics’ need to not eat meat on Fridays.

The official recipe agreed upon at the end of the study was filed at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna (together with 29 other traditional recipes of the city) finally ending the debate. So if you want to try the authentic spaghetti bolognese recipe (serves 4), here it is:

Ingredients:

12 oz spaghetti
6 oz good quality tuna in oil
1 red onion of normal size (possibly from Medicina)
24 oz fresh tomatoes (or a 14 oz can of peeled tomatoes)
Salt and oil to taste

Cut the onion into very thin slices and brown in oil until it becomes transparent. Add the tomatoes, peeled and cut into pieces, and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, until they are completely blended. 10 minutes before they are done, add the drained tuna, crumbled into coarse pieces. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti al dente and mix with the sauce after draining them.


Tips for making the perfect traditional spaghetti bolognese

The pan

For me, making the best traditional spaghetti bolognese starts with the right saucepan. I prefer to use my favourite wide, deep dish frypan (that is actually called a serving pan), the same one that I use for my risotto. I add a good amount of olive oil and a good dob of butter to my pan before adding the vegetables, but that is not essential.

The vegetables

In an attempt to make Miss M (and Peter) eat more vegetables, I also add more carrots (around 3 total) and normally use celeriac, rather than celery. The reason for this is simple economics. I can normally buy &lsquosoup vegetables&rsquo (Suppengemüse) at the supermarket, which includes a few carrots, a bit of leek and some celery root. If I want to use celery, I have to buy it separately and most of the celery will wilt before it is used.

On occasion I have been known to throw some other vegetables into the mix too. Zucchini is often added. Mushrooms and capsicum find their way in if they need to be used. I also like to add some very finely chopped lean bacon.

The official recipe for bolognese sauce was registered in October 1982 by the Italian Academy of Cuisine with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce. This official version includes bacon &ndash so my addition is quite traditional. However, this official version also includes milk, so you know&hellip

For years, I did not have a food processor &ndash in fact, I did not have one until my birthday last month (Peter got me this one in red, after checking that I would not get mad for buying a practical gift). Instead, I would just very finely chop the vegetables. The texture was a little different and they sometimes needed more time to soften, but it still tasted great.

Garlic

It was made very clear to us during our cooking class that a traditional spaghetti bolognese does NOT contain garlic. Garlic tends to overpower other ingredients in the sauce. According to our teachers, the Sicilians prefer to put garlic in their sauces, but that is not how things are done in Bologna.

Tomato

In Italy, traditional spaghetti bolognese always has tomatoes in the sauce.

Tomatoes didn&rsquot arrive in Europe until the 1500s, when Conquistador Hernán Cortés brought them back to Spain from Peru. Until then, obviously, the Bolognese made their meat sauce without tomatoes.

In the 1700s, Bologna became known for its tomato-based meat sauce. It is now impossible to think of traditional spaghetti bolognese without tomatoes. However, originally this style of sauce was only made for holidays and special occasions.

Pasta

Here comes the crunch: if you are at a restaurant in Italy and ask for spaghetti bolognese, you will get blank looks and will not find it on the menu of a good restaurant.

A side note: How can you tell if a restaurant is a tourist trap in Italy? Simply look for spaghetti bolognese on the menu. If you see it, you&rsquove found one and the restaurant is likely to be more expensive, too.

First, what we refer to a bolognese is referred to in Italy as ragù, or meat sauce cooked over low heat for a number of hours. There are many, many different types of meat sauce in Italy, with the ingredients varying depending on the region (see garlic). Ragù alla Bolognese means meat sauce from Bologna, or made the way the Bolognese do.

Second, bolognese ragù sauce is only served with tagliatelle, tortellini or gnocchi. Never with spaghetti. The thicker types of pasta hold the chunky bolognese sauce better than the thin spaghetti.

If you can get it, fresh pasta is better. If not (if your supermarket shelves are a little bare like ours), serve it with whatever pasta you can get. Apparently ragù alla Bolognese was first served with macaroni.


My time saving tips

Use food processor for chopping up all vegetables to save time! Processing your vegetables this way also makes for a smoother sauce.

When I have some time to spare or I just want to zone out in the kitchen without anyone bugging me I dice all vegetables by hand. Onions, carrots, celery. The lot.

But last night time was short, so I simply threw everything in the food processor and gave it a whirl.

Same flavour, less effort plus if you have picky eaters they will have no idea how many vitamins are hidden in that spaghetti sauce.

The recipe was originally published in 01/2014. Updated with new photos, recipe and text in 03/2020


Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 120+ mins
Total Time: 135+ mins

Ingredients for Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

3 tbsp olive oil
500g lean minced beef
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 medium white or red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 (400g) cans good quality chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried sage
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
200ml beef stock, to thin sauce, if desired
250ml red wine (optional)
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
70g tomato puree
freshly, finely grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Instructions

In a large non-stick saucepot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.
Crumble minced beef into the pot.
Brown beef, stirring occasionally (stirring constantly makes your beef grey) and breaking up the beef as you stir until cooked through.
Drain ground beef, reserving 1 tbsp fat in the pot.

Place browned beef in a food processor and pulse until finely ground, about 10 – 15 seconds, set aside.
Saute carrot, celery and onion in reserved fat over medium-high heat until golden, about 4 minutes, adding in garlic during the last minute of sauteing.

Remove from heat (this will reduce splattering) and stir in 2 cans chopped tomatoes, the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage, bay leaves, Worcester sauce, tomato puree, red wine, salt, pepper and browned beef.
Return pot to low heat and simmer covered for a minimum of 2 hours (you can leave for longer but no more than 5 hours), stirring occasionally.

Add water to the sauce to thin sauce if desired (at about 3 hours sauce will be pretty thick so if you want it any thinner just add stock to desired consistency. Please also refer to my notes).

Remove bay leaves and serve sauce warm over pasta garnished with grated cheeses and additional chopped fresh parsley or basil if desired.

Notes

A little tip: I always add some of the starchy pasta water (about 50ml) to the sauce so it sticks to the pasta and gives the sauce a silky texture.


Authentic spaghetti Bolognese recipe - Recipes

Peel carrot till nothing left and chop peelings in to squares, cut pepper into chunks and slice mushrooms. When the onions are brown add in the carrot, pepper and mushrooms.

When all is soft (usually takes 5 minutes on medium heat), add in the mince. MAKE SURE ALL MINCE IS COMPLETELY BROWN TILL MOVE ONTO NEXT STEP. Put on a pan of water, will take long time to boil.

Add in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, stir together. Then crumble 1 Oxo cube into the bolognese, add 1 Oxo cube into very little water (in a jug) and stir with a fork till is all crumbled and is smooth, add to mixture.

After that, crush the garlic and add, then add in the herbs for flavour. Turn down the heat and let cook for 20 minutes.

When 5 minutes to go, add the pasta to a pan of boiling water and cook till soft (to know when ready either try it, of if have tiles in your kitchen, throw the pasta at it, if it sticks it is ready). If doing this for family/dinner party better too cook much before the meal, the flavours will come together longer and give a better taste to the dinner.


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Authentic spaghetti Bolognese recipe - Recipes

Spaghetti Bolognese

Very simple ingredients with beef, pork and intensely tasty!

Bolognese sauce is an Italian meat based sauce for pasta which originated in Bologna in Northern Italy. Originally known as Bolognese Ragu or tagliatelle al ragù. This recipe is not exactly authentic if that actually exists, however flavour-wise, this recipe is as good as it gets for what we have grown to love as Spaghetti Bolognese.

Ingredients

    200g-7oz pork mince 200g-7oz beef mince 4 bacon rashers 1 brown onion 1 garlic clove 1 carrot 2-3 celery sticks 1 cup red wine 2 tbs tomato paste 2 bay leaves 3 cups beef or chicken stock 1 cup passatta (or tin crushed tomatoes) 2 tbs butter Few sprigs of fresh thyme (or used dried) Some grated Parmesan cheese.

Steps

Peel and chop the onion into a brunoise (very small dice, the smaller the better)

Peel and chop the carrot into a brunoise (very small dice, the smaller the better)

Chop the celery sticks into a brunoise (very small dice, the smaller the better)

Repeat the same process with the bacon, chop into very small dice.

To a hot deep pan melt the butter.

Add the two minced meats and try to loosen them and break up any clumps so they fry evenly.

Add the thyme, separate the leaves from the stalk if using fresh.

Continue cooking until meat starts to brown, keep mixing to avoid it sticking to the bottom.

Mix well and leave to sweat for a few minutes.

Add the tomato puree and mix all ingredients together.

Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the heat down to as low as possible and let simmer gently for 60 minutes.

After 40 minutes into cooking time, boil a large pot of salted water for your pasta.

Remove bay leaves from sauce.

Add pasta to water and cook al dente (read cooking times on pack).

Drain pasta and add to hot sauce, mix well into the sauce so the pasta can absorb it.

Serve with some grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Little Tips

Always cook pasta al dente. (should be slightly firm when you bite into it).
You can also add half a cup of cream towards the end of cooking time.
If sauce becomes too thick, add a little more pasta water to thin it down.
Adding the salt to the water after it boils speeds up the boiling process and won't affect the flavour.
Always heat up your plates as pasta cools down fast.


Listen up, Mary Berry: Italian chefs show world the correct way to make spaghetti bolognese

The real deal: don't think of substituting minced beef with chicken or turkey Credit: funkyfood London - Paul Williams / Alamy

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W hile the dish has been a staple for millions of diners around the world for decades, Italians claimed the original reciope has become so corrupted (with the addition of double cream and white wine, for example) it is in urgent need of culinary rescue. Here is an authentic recipe, approved by Italian chefs, for traditional spaghetti bolognese.

SERVES

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 rashers of streaky 'pancetta' bacon, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Stick of celery
  • 1kg lean minced beef
  • 2 large glasses of red wine
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
    salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 800g-1kg dried tagliatelle
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve

METHOD

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and fry the bacon until golden over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, frying until softened. Increase the heat and add the minced beef. Fry it until it has browned. Pour in the wine and boil until it has reduced in volume by about a third. Reduce the temperature and stir in the tomatoes and celery.

Cover with a lid and simmer over a gentle heat for 1-1½ hours until it's rich and thickened, stirring occasionally.

Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of boiling salted water. Drain and divide between plates. Sprinkle a little parmesan over the pasta before adding a good ladleful of the sauce. Finish with a further scattering of cheese and a twist of black pepper.

What do Italian chefs think of our bolognese imitations?

Gourmands insist that the popular dish's apparent simplicity is deceptive, and throw their arms up in dismay when they see chicken or turkey used as a substitute for the key ingredient, minced beef.

In an attempt to restore the integrity of the dish known to millions of British diners as "spag bol", nearly 450 chefs in Italian restaurants in 50 countries cooked spaghetti bolognese on Sunday with authentic ingredients including pancetta, carrots, celery, onions, tomato paste and a dash of wine.

They had to conform to a recipe set down in 1982 by the chamber of commerce in Bologna - the home of bolognese.

Most people, particularly foreigners, get the recipe wrong from the very start, purists insist. Instead of spaghetti, they say it is tagliatelle that should be cooked to go with the rich meat and tomato sauce, making it "tag bol" rather than "spag bol".

"Along with lasagne, spaghetti bolognese is the most abused Italian dish. There are some crazy versions out there," said Massimo Bottura, a bolognese "virtuoso" who runs a restaurant in Modena. The worst he had ever eaten was in Bangkok. "It was terrible," he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Abominations such as turkey mince, American meatballs, butter and cream have no part in a true spaghetti bolognese and need to be stamped out, say the guardians of Italy's culinary heritage.

"Abroad, when they offer spaghetti bolognese, it's often something that has nothing at all to do with the original," said Alfredo Tomaselli, the owner of Dal Bolognese, in Rome's Piazza del Popolo, who counts among his past customers George Clooney.

It is not only spaghetti bolognese that is subject to abuse in the kitchens of the world. Other Italian dishes that have gained worldwide popularity, such as spaghetti carbonara, Neapolitan pizza, pesto and the creamy dessert tiramisu, have also been compromised, often with results that are close to inedible.

"It is always the great classic recipes that get most twisted around," said Alessandro Circiello, of the Italian Federation of Chefs.