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Italian Ragu: The Saucy Secrets!

The magic behind one of Italy’s most treasured recipes


Ragu Bolognese sauce is probably the most distinguished Italian sauce in the world and a big favourite in the UK. The gastronomic reputation of Bologna dates back to the Middle Ages, thanks to the rich noble families who could afford to have dishes with meat and employ the most celebrated chefs of the time.

The name is a term of French origin used to indicate a sauce usually made with meat and tomato sauce, or a sauce made from various ingredients.

Over time, with the evolution of Italian cuisine and eating habits, people have made ragu considerably lighter to lower the fat content and shorten the cooking time.

Bolognese sauce is traditionally paired with tagliatelle, not spaghetti - Italian chefs say the sauce clings better to flat pasta rather than thin spaghetti. In Bologna it’s called Tagliatelle al Ragu rather than spaghetti Bolognese.


Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 6 rashers streaky bacon
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 1kg beef mince
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 glasses red or dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste




Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the diced bacon. Add the chopped vegetables, frying until softened. Tip in the mince, stirring until it sizzles, then pour in the wine and tomatoes and let it simmer for about 2 hours until rich and thick. Season to taste before serving with tagliatelle. 


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