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Feb 3, 2021

Ragù Bolognese

Ragù Bolognese is a delicious meaty tomato sauce originating from Bologna in northern Italy. This one has three kinds of meat and is simmered for about three hours. 

Ragu Bolognese with linguine

This ragù Bolognese recipe produces a thick, rich, and delicious sauce that you can use on pasta or in a very special lasagna bolognese. 

What makes this sauce special is that, rather than buying ground pork or beef, you process the meat yourself in the food processor to a roughly ground texture. In addition, you make a paste of pancetta in the food processor to add to the meat mixture for an amazing flavor. 

How to make this ragù Bolognese recipe:

First, you make a mirepoix of onions, celery, and carrots. Roughly chop the vegetables and then briefly process them in your food processor. Put the mirepoix in a large Dutch oven with some butter and olive oil. 

Next, you puree canned tomatoes in the food processor and set them aside. 

At this point, roughly chop cubed pork shoulder and beef short ribs in batches in the food processor, about 5 to 10 pulses, and then you process the pancetta to a rough paste. 

Ragu Bolognese with linguine in bowls

Brown the vegetables in the Dutch oven and then add some tomato paste and continue to cook. Add some white wine to deglaze the pot. Once the wine has been almost evaporated, add some beef broth, the meats, and the pureed tomatoes. 

You'll add some bay leaves and red pepper flakes, and then simmer the partially covered pot for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until you have about 8 cups. 

Finally, stir in some dissolved gelatin to add more thickness and meatiness to the sauce. 

Tips for making this Bolognese sauce:

If you want to be sure you've reduced the sauce to eight cups, first put eight cups of water into the pot and, using a clean ruler or skewer, measure where the eight cup mark is. Pour out the water and mark the ruler or skewer so you can measure the sauce as you cook it. 

For the pancetta, if you have access to a whole piece of pancetta, definitely buy it. I used the prepackaged diced pancetta, which worked just fine. If you have to use the pre-sliced pancetta, process it for half of the time. 

You can make this sauce up to three days in advance, and you can freeze any leftovers for up to 30 days. 

Ragu Bolognese in a jar

I tossed two cups of this sauce with linguine for a dinner for four.

Toss eight ounces of cooked "just before al dente" noodles with the sauce in a hot skillet with the sauce, and add a little bit of the pasta water as necessary. Top with some freshly grated Parmesan and chopped basil, and you have a delicious pasta meal. 

I like to sprinkle on some crushed red pepper over the finished dish, but I like to sprinkle crushed red pepper over just about everything. 

I used the rest of the sauce for an amazing lasagna Bolognese, with layers of noodles, sauce, and a Parmesan bèchamel sauce. 

For an even meatier sauce, be sure to try Sunday Gravy

Lasagna Bolognese slice

This sauce is so versatile. While the original sauce does not contain any dairy, you could also add some half and half or cream to leftover sauce and toss it with store-bought gnocchi for a delicious meal of gnocchi Bolognese. 

Top the gnocchi Bolognese with some mozzarella dn bake it for a gooey and delicious treat. So many options, right? 

Foodie Extravaganza logo

Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays by cooking and baking together with the same theme each month. 

This month, the Foodie Extravaganza group's theme is "Starting with a Can," chosen by Wendy, one of my favorite bloggers, of A Day in the Life on the Farm

Wendy discovered that February is National Canned Food Month. Thus, the theme. I used two large cans of whole tomatoes as well as a can of beef broth for this recipe. 

If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board!

Ragu Bolognese with linguine and basil in a bowl

Ragù Bolognese Recipe

Ragù Bolognese Recipe
Yield: 16 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Ragù Bolognese is a delicious meaty tomato sauce originating from Bologna in northern Italy. This one has three kinds of meat and is simmered for about three hours.


  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 28-ounce cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Add the butter and olive oil to a large (about 8 quart) Dutch oven.
  2. Pulse the onion, celery, and carrot in the bowl of a large food processor, about 5 times. Scrape the mixture into the Dutch oven. 
  3. In the same food processor, process the tomatoes, one can at a time until smooth. Pour them into a medium bowl. 
  4. Begin processing the beef and pork in batches, processing about 1/2 pound at a time, 5 to 10 pulses until coarsely ground. Transfer the meat to another bowl as you continue process. 
  5. Process the pancetta about 30 seconds until it's a coarse paste. Add it to the bowl of meat. 
  6. Place the Dutch oven over medium high heat and sauté the vegetables until lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes, until the paste begins to brown. Add the white wine and scrape up any brown bits, cooking for about a minute. 
  7. Add the meats, the beef broth, the tomatoes, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper. Bring the mixture just barely to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until reduced to 8 cups. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  8. Dissolve the gelatin in the water for 5 minutes, and then stir the mixture into the sauce until dissolved. 
  9. Your sauce is ready to use. 



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Any nutritional data I provide is an approximation and actual dietary information can vary based on ingredients and portion sizes. This data is calculated by my recipe card.
Ragù Bolognese
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This recipe is adapted from Milk Street TV. This is from season 4, episode 8, first aired October 30, 2020. You definitely need to set your DVR to record this show. It's great. 

My favorite food processor for this recipe is the 14-cup Cuisinart. I've had mine for years and it is a work horse. 

Would you like to comment?

  1. I have never heard of Milk Street TV. I am going to have to check it out because this recipe looks ahhhhhhmazing.

    1. Thanks Wendy. I think you can actually watch the shows online.

  2. Hi Karen, this so delicious,I remember when I was little my mother use to make this most of the time and now I make..😷🙏

    1. Thanks Rosa. That means a lot coming from you, who knows Italian food!

  3. I'm with you on the crushed red pepper, Karen. In fact, I keep a tiny Tupperware of it in my purse, just in case. You can imagine how it improves most dishes and especially airplane food, not that anybody's been going anywhere lately. Your slow-cooked ragu looks wonderful!

    1. Thanks! I carry a shaker of red pepper flakes in my purse too, lol! And keep one in my desk at work.

  4. It's great knowing shows can be streamed online for Milk Street. Since I cut the cord some shows are hard to find. In any case, your ragu looks to be pure comfort.

  5. The ragu looks delicious and comforting! Having this delicious sauce can come in handy anytime.

  6. Love the spice in this dish, super delicious!


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