Ragù alla Bolognese

"Everyone in this region makes ragù alla bolognese," says Anna Nanni, a cook at Trattoria Amerigo dal 1934, outside Bologna in the city of Savigno. "From ten women, you’ll get ten different recipes, all of them traditional." Her ragù is brightly flavored and slightly tangy, owing to the addition of canned tomatoes.

  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (with juice)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/4 b. ground beef chuck
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork shoulder
  • 1 4-oz. piece pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp. Homemade Tomato Paste
  • Homemade Tagliatelle
Put tomatoes and their juice into a blender; purée until smooth and set aside. Heat oil and butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add celery, onions, and carrots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes more.

Add beef and pork and cook, stirring and breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until meat begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Add pancetta and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until its fat has rendered, about 10 minutes more. Increase heat to medium, add wine, and simmer, stirring constantly, until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add reserved tomato purée, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is very thick, about 3 hours.

Season ragù with salt and pepper. Toss with fresh tagliatelle or the pasta of your choice, or use in lasagne. Serve with grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Yields: 4 cups