Italian Meat Ragù – Bilingual Recipe (Eng-Ita)

Meat ragù, also known as Bolognese sauce, is one of the most renowned condiments not only in Italy but around the world.

Ragù typically consists of a tomato sauce and ground meat, slow-cooked with flavours that vary depending on the Italian region in which it is prepared.

italian meat ragu recipe

The various kinds of ragù

The most renowned ragùs in Italy are Bolognese ragù and Neapolitan ragù.

The difference between Bolognese ragù and Neapolitan ragù lies in the treatment of the meat.

Bolognese ragù uses minced beef and pork, with a “soffritto” of finely chopped vegetables such as celery, carrot, and onion. It is primarily intended as a sauce for fresh or dried pasta but also pairs well with polenta.

On the other hand, Neapolitan ragù uses pieces of non-minced beef and pork, basil, abundant tomato sauce, and onion. The sauce is so rich that, besides being a pasta condiment, it can be considered a standalone dish and requires slow cooking for about four hours.

The origin of ragù

The origin of the word has roots in the French “ragout,” a noun derived from the verb “ragouter” (with a circumflex accent on the “u”), meaning to stimulate the appetite.

In Italy, ragù has evolved into the traditional pasta sauce for festive occasions, solidifying its position as the quintessential festive dish.

The ingredients and measurements

  • 700 grams of minced beef
  • 300 grams of minced pork (both meats should have some fat content)
  • 900 ml of tomato puree
  • 150 grams of minced pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Onion, celery, and carrot for the “soffritto” (sautéed vegetables)
  • 5/6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVO)
  • 100 ml of wine (red or white)
  • 60 ml of milk
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg, if desired
  • 700 grammi di carne di manzo macinata
  • 300 grammi di carne di maiale macinata (entrambe le carni dovrebbero contenere un po’ di grasso)
  • 900 ml di passata di pomodoro
  • 150 grammi di pancetta macinata
  • 2 cucchiai di concentrato di pomodoro
  • Cipolla, sedano e carota per il soffritto
  • 5/6 cucchiai di olio extra vergine di oliva (EVO)
  • 100 ml di vino (rosso o bianco)
  • 60 ml di latte
  • Pepe
  • Noce moscata, se desiderato

How to make the ragù


Prepare the “soffritto” with carrot, celery, and onion: wash and cut the vegetables into small pieces, then chop them with a mixer.

Sauté the soffritto over medium heat in a pot with oil and a tablespoon of water for about 5 minutes.

Add the meat and sauté it for about 10 minutes.

When the meat changes colour, deglaze with the wine.

Pour in the tomato puree.

Fill the empty tomato puree bottle completely with water and pour half of it into the pot with the sauce and meat. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours, gradually adding the remaining water from the bottle.

When it has finished cooking, finish with milk and, if desired, add pepper and nutmeg.

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