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Serious Ragł Bolognese (page 2 of 2)

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Bolognese is one of the most famous dishes in Italy, but where outside Bologna can one eat a proper ragł these days? Right in your kitchen if you follow my recipe.
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Flatten the meat with your spatula and flip constantly until the meat is evenly browned.

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Push aside. See how the relatively large quantity of food on the relatively cold far side of the pan makes the meat render its juice? That's what would have happened had you not heeded my warning about putting too much cold meat on your pan. But now the meat is browned and it does not matter any more.

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Continue with the rest of the meat ...

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...browning it as before until you run out of meat. If you run out of space on your pan, just remove the browned meat to the same dish where you moved the aromatic garnish.

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A clean, well-organized working space tonight at FXcuisine.com! Here I have been heating chick stock (top pot) and full fat milk (bottom). I did not pour myself a large glass of white wine - this one will go in the meat in a second.

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Move the meat and aromatic garnish back to the center of the pan (or back into the pan if you had put it in a separate dish), keeping the temperature on high. Pour the glass of wine into the meat ...

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... and let it evaporate. What we want here is to dissolve the delicious bits of burnt meat that stuck to the pan. Chefs call this deglazing and you must certainly have seen your Mum do it! The Simili sisters say that the wine is hot enough when you can no longer smell it. Basically you can let it evaporate almost entirely.

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Now we move to the last stage - you will soon rest! Take a large oven-resistant pot with a tight lid, for instance a Dutch Oven. Empty everything we've been cooking so far into the pot.

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Place your head above the pot and smell. Isn't life wonderful?

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Pour the warm milk into the ragł like a white waterfall.

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Mix and bring to a boil.

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Add the tomatoes - here I used San Marzano canned tomatoes from the Vesuvio, approved by the Slow-Food Gods. I can't help but wonder if the Gods have recently checked the state of the countryside in Campania.

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Then another can and mix. If nobody from Bologna is around, you can discreetly secrete a few herbs into the pot. If I had my way I'd gladly add a stick of cinammon and one of my beloved dried Serrano chilies, but then it would no longer be an orthodox ragł bolognese but a ragł d'autore, a personal rendering of the traditional dish. Maybe next time.

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Add the chicken stock, cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours. If you have an electric oven you can set it on 120C°/250F° and place the tightly covered pot inside. There is no need for further attention and you can take a well-deserved pause.

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Here is the cooked ragł - it still has a coarse appearance with large chunks of tomatoes and clusters of ground meat. Amazing after 3 hours, but we shall prevail. Use an immersion blender to reduce some of the meat to a finer consistance. Don't overdo it, we don't want soup and some texture is desirable! Place the pot back on the burner with the lid off and boil off any excess liquid. Depending on what you will use the ragł for, a thicker or longer consistancy will be in order.

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There we are - your ragł is finished. Congratulations! You can freeze it or use immediately on any flat pasta. Italians just don't eat meat sauces with spaghetti. Spagbol is more of a British invention best left on this island, methink.

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Have a taste.

Next week I'll show you how to make lasagne bolognese using this ragł.

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Today I lift part of the curtain at FXcuisine - you won't meet the wizard just yet but here is a glimpse of how I light the food. A powerful halogen light hangs from the ceiling and shoots at the food through a translucent white umbrella. I only use one light on all my pictures. What you see on a photo - any photo - is light reflected by the scene into the lens. If you have crap light, you'll have crap pictures. Crap light can be the built-in camera flash or a neon tube on the ceiling. To make nice-looking pictures, you need a good, large light.

The light is so intense that to take this picture I had to combine several exposures - one very dark, a medium one and a very light one, so that you could see both the umbrella and the relatively darker stove. This technique is called HDR. Here is another picture of the same scene just before I added the carrots and celery but with a less realistic look.


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If you do this recipe at home please let me know how it worked for you by submitting a comment or send me a picture if you can. Thanks!


Truly inspiring. I have made Bolognese ragu once. I think only once because it was soooo much work. I started late in the day and it took a while. I think, based on your post, that I made a personal version.Where did you get that light rig? I don't know if my wife would ever let me have such a thing but it looks like it moves out of the way when you need it to.
I will have to attempt this recipe - getting hold of chicken liver in the UK will probably be a challenge, so perhaps it is something to try next time I am in Hungary. They are quite fond of it over there.At which stage did you add the liver to the pot?
Gorgeous, as usual
  • #4
  • Comment by roadfever
Inspiring and educational...as are so many of your recipes.  Thanks for a great source!
  • #5
  • Comment by jeff
I have been working at making this sauce for some time now and love this rendition. It is beautiful...I love the chicken livers which I have not used. Thank you
  • #6
  • Answered by fx
Donald you'll find it is much less work than it looks. Most of it is just getting the ingredients ready and a really long simmer. The cooking itself is great fun, and you can make loads of it and freeze it! For my lights I got them from Hedler and Foba, there is more to it than what you see on this picture and you'll need an extra-understanding wife to fit that into your kitchen! Perhaps you might use an off-camera flash with a large bouncer, or just a large photographic continuous light with an umbrella. If your kitchen is large enough you can just put it on a tripod and off you go. I hope this helps!
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
Johan, thanks for letting me know, I had forgotten the liver-frying picture. Now it's back in the article, it goes right after the bacon and just before the meat. If you buy whole chickens they ought to come with heart, liver and gizzard still in.
  • #8
  • Answered by fx
Roadfever, thanks a lot for your appreciation!
  • #9
  • Answered by fx
Jeff, thanks for your visit. I recommend you give the chicken liver its chance at least once - you'll be hooked!
  • #10
  • Comment by Tim
Your photography is inspirational, and your patient step by step recipe gives me the confidence cook them myself. Thank you for a very helpful resource.
I am fascinated by the many recipes for ragu. I use Marcella Hazan's recipe, which carefully does not brown the meat. And it is wonderful. But my next attempt will be with your technique, although I am tempted to use rabbit. I just had a magnificent rabbit ragu over pappardelle in a restaurant here in NY.As usual, a wonderful article, and spectacular photos!
  • #12
  • Comment by timinmemphis
Great recipe and I am making it right now after reading this. One trick I use for the delicate matter about the herbs is to just add a few to the chicken stock. Their flavor will infuse but not at all dominate once the stock is strained and added to the meat and vegetables. I do the same with just a couple of cloves of garlic, which aren't in the recipe but are a staple of chicken stock so why not??!! Can't wait to finish this about four hours from now and taste!
  • #13
  • Comment by Bruce F
Hi Dennis,I have a general question, and I'm not where I should ask it...Have you ever eaten a Mangalitsa wooly pig from Austria?  The food blogger Michael Ruhlman had a post about an American who was importing them and trying to interest pig farmers in raising them.  On his site he had a link to several of the Austrian farms he visited.  This one showing how the marbled flesh was pretty interesting.I was curious what a "foodie" thought of the taste.Thanks, love the site, especially the offbeat travel posts..........
  • #14
  • Comment by Dean
I am looking forward to trying this recipe in an attempt to lead people away from the dreaded 'spag bol' that is loved so much by us Brits.Johan- if you have difficulty getting chicken liver from a store just ask your local butcher who i'm sure will be more than happy to order some in for you.
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
Tim, thanks for your kind words! You can safely try and cook your own ragu bolognese, it is failsafe if you follow my instructions. Good luck!
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
Mr Lapin, thanks a lot for visiting! Marcella Hazan is a very popular author in English but I think in this case the browning is definitely a good idea and recommend you give it a try. Rabbit and pappardelle - sounds like heaven! The problem with restaurant pappardelle, is that, even in Italy, then tend to be overcooked. The damn thing requires less than a minute of boiling and they continue to cook in the sauce. I have never had the ultimate, which is Papardelle sulla lepre, with wild hare. Cheers & thanks again for visiting!
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
Tim thanks for trying my ragł, you are right about the herbs they can dominate a stock if you put too much. I love garlic and actually smuggled a few cloves in the ragł. Watch out for the lasagna article later this week!
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
Bruce, I have to look into these hairy pigs, there is a Wollschwein club in Switzerland. I'll see if I can visit and perhaps post an article on FXcuisine!
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
Dean thanks for trying to rid Britain of spagbol-by-the-gallon! I think every chicken has a liver if you buy it whole it should not be a problem. Don't you eat liver in Britain at all?
Thanks,fx. One note about the busy but lazy among us. I had a zillion errands to run while cooking the bolognese ragu Saturday and, after taking great pains to mince the vegetables to just the right consistency and make just finest homemade chicken stock and blend the ground beef and ground pork together in just the right way, I put everything in a crock pot to simmer for hours. The final product was NASTY!! I think the crock pot brings out nothing but the grease and it tasted like a big pot of boiled fat! LOL. The next morning, I scraped all of the congealed grease off the top and pureed the sauce and managed to save it from total disaster. It worked out OK and was much better, but I would discourage anyone from using the crock pot, which I have never had much luck with anyway. From now on it's a copper pot or Dutch oven and nothing else. I also chopped up some fresh spinach leaves and added it to the sauce and that was good. All in all, finally, it was a pretty good success. Thanks again for the recipe and I will continue experimenting and look forward to the lasagna article. As for those pigs, just don't cook Guinea pigs, as I once ate in the Andes Mountains in Peru, against my own good judgment. NOT a good idea!!!
Oh, and by the way. My favorite thing to cook right now is a funny-looking vegetable called the mirliton, also known as the cheyote squash or the "pear vegetable." These grow like crazy in Louisiana and when I spent the summers there as a kid with my wonderful Aunt Patsy, she cooked them regularly - stuffed with ground meats or shrimp and cornbread and onions and bell peppers - and they were legendary. I hadn't had one one in 20 years until recently, when a friend brought some to me from NOLA. They look like big wrinkled green pears and they have a sprightly taste that hints of cucumber. Just Google them for recipes. The stuffed ones are the most common, but you can also just puree them and add the pulp to cream and stock to make a bisque, or you can just add the boiled pulp to cornbread (or French bread) stuffing and the outcome is a sweet, delicious concoction that you will not forget. Try them!!
  • #22
  • Comment by Dean
Franēois- We do eat liver yes but i find that it is waning in popularity. It tends to be calf's liver but lamb's liver is also eaten. It is usually served in a dish called 'Liver & Onions' (original name). The onion's are fried slowly for 20 minutes or so until caramelised then strips of liver are added and cooked to taste (overcooked more often than not).
  • #23
  • Comment by Richard
Francois,This is pretty close to my Ragu that I've honed over the years. I have seldom tasted better I must (rather immodestly) claim. I use red wine and beef stock though. The end result has a wonderful mahogany colour and a great flavour. However I will definitely give yours a try.A great site by the way. Stumbled upon it this evening. Good work.
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
Tim, this is surprising but I'm glad you managed to save your ragł. Just how much fat did you add? What had you cooked in the crockpot before? Sometimes it can give out some smell from the food formerly cooked in it. I won't cook Guinea pigs, I promise. The other reader discussed furry pigs, these are regular pigs with more hair than usual.

Living in Memphis, you must have access to great barbecue - the real deal, 12-hours brisket and the like. Do you like those?
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
Dean, thanks for visiting. I don't particularly care for liver myself, except foie gras of course, but I find that in sauces they just add something you can't find anywhere else.
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
Richard I a not surprised your home cooked, honed-over-the-years ragł beats any you've eaten elsewhere. People don't take the time to make it properly these days and anyway you can't serve this in a serious restaurant and have people pay the price it costs to make properly.  Unless you live in Bologna of course. Apart from the red-vs-white wine and beef-vs-chicken stock, what other differences with the Simili sisters recipe I used? I think the wine makes no difference, after 4 hours all that remains is a touch of tartness and some sugar. Thanks and hope to see you again on my blog soon - watch out for the Lasagna on Friday!
  • #27
  • Comment by James A
Thank you very much for the delicious recipe, I will be unleashing it on my unsuspecting british friends soon.  Spagbog is a traditional english dish, recipes and twists are handed down from the previous generation, forgetten, and this the typical recipe is used in place.  Anyone from britain, particularly students, should recognise it.1.Place your cheap full-fat meat into a saucepan, place over the hob and turn on heat, mush with a wooden spoon.2.Chop an onion and two garlics and add to meat.3.Mush all together with a wooden spoon.4.When all pink has disaapeared from meat add two cans of cheap chopped tomatoes5.Make sure heat is still on full and wait until it is bubbling, use the spoon to stir and mush.6.Ah you forgot something! Add a squidge of tomato paste (secretly thinking it probably won’t make any difference)7.If you are used to frozen pizza and jarred sauces, at this point your probably feeling all fired up and creative from the cooking experience.  Ingredients to consider: worscester sauce, a pinch of matured dried mixed herbs, or a mystery spice.  Why not add some colourful peppers for a Spanish twist.  Alternatively, add a teaspoon of mild chilli powder and a can of kidney beans to ‘convert’ the sauce into a chilli con carne.  You are the alchemist.8.Prepare spaghetti by breaking in half so it fits in the pan.  Cook (forgetting to stir) until its soft so a baby could eat it (childhood memories).  Pasta if not cooked thoroughly can swell up in your stomach and make you feel bloated and sweaty (you remember that feeling from last spagbol) unless you are Italian.9.Total cooking time 20mins.  Serve with 200gr of grated cheddar on top and a glass of orange juice.  Bon appétit.
Hi FX, it was really wonderful to see a shot "behind the scenes" as it were, of your lighting set up. I live in a small apartment with a very small kitchen-there isn't enough room to cook not to mention to set up lights like yours, but I did take your comments (and your other email to me) about lighting seriously and once I am done with this semester of graduate school I hope to be able to afford at least one small good light from Ebay. I know it will make a big difference-right now my best photos are made with bright natural light, and the ones I take at night are pretty dismal.It looks like you are getting a lot of attention these days here at fxcuisine.com. What a lot of comments:)Keep up the great work, and I hope to actually make something off of your blog soon.
  • #29
  • Answered by fx
James I will soon post a codicil to the authentic bolognese ragł that will honor your recipe for spagbog. Just wait and watch!
  • #30
  • Answered by fx
Lyra thanks for your comment! There is an alternate option - you could invest in one of these small flashes like the Nikon SB-800 and buy one umbrella, a very small lighting tripod (15$) and a Bogen flash clamp. This setup would all fit into a handbag, with the tripod protruding perhaps, and weigh only 2 pounds tops. But that would give you a large light whenever you want to take pictures. Or forget the umbrella if you can't fit it into your kitchen but just bounce the flash off the ceiling or wall or cupboard and use the reflection as a large light. This would be a much more compact and affordable option than the pro continuous light. I'm confident you'll find a way that works for you and good luck!
  • #31
  • Comment by Richard
Hi Francois,What an interesting experiment:From the start of cooking the dishes were quite marked in appearance and flavour. The traditional was more subtle and mine was more robust. The use of passata in the traditional meant that it started off at a point where it took mine a good hour to break the tomatoes down into a sauce.After 2 hours however there was not a great deal between them: they both looked and tasted similar. The differences that I could detect earlier had been smoothed as they matured during the long cooking process.Mine was a little more robust with a little more tomato/wine tang. The traditional was still slightly lighter in flavour but became much more robust during cooking.However the addition of nutmeg and a hand-blend to produce the required consistency really made the difference. It took me right back to Italy! The family however preferred mine and was a little put off by the blended texture of the traditional.They had mine with Linguine and I had the traditional with pappardelle. It was super.What I learnt? Passata really speeded up the cooking/maturing process and in practical terms gave the traditional a head start.The lack of garlic and herbs were not an issue I thought it'd be very obvious omission but it was not the case. The addition of nutmeg gave the dish a different direction.I thought they'be very different beasts but in fact they were suprisingly close. A very enjoyable experiment and a good excuse to spend a few hours fiddling! All the bestRichard.
  • #32
  • Comment by Brian
Johan - chicken livers (and free range at that) are normally available in any branch of Waitrose in a pack bigger than you need for this recipe, but you'll need something to eat while you're waiting for this to cook! Slow cooking really is the key - some ingredients (chicken livers, pancetta) just melt away, leaving a memory of their taste, while others (tomato, carrot) develop and become richer.
Will you marry me? Ok. Not marriage. I really don't want to get married,  done it twice... so ummm, will you live with me? Ok, just for like a week. Maybe I should just ask... will you cook with me?
  • #34
  • Answered by fx
Richard, thanks a lot for reporting back this experience and for giving this traditional ragł its fair chance in front of your established family version. I am quite sure that your ragł d'autore would be considered highly traditional by most Italians! The milk is an addition that surprends most people, that's why I chose it for the lead picture.
  • #35
  • Answered by fx
Brian you're quite right the livers just a memory of  themselves, provided you crush and chop them really fine. I just fished out a pigeon heart out of my peas from another recipe and for a minute I thought it was a small squid because of the arteries left on  it. Not overly appetising I must say!
  • #36
  • Answered by fx
Thanks Claudia for the mariage offer, this ragł must definitely be worth the money! I checked out your own lamb ragł, very credible indeed! With this you'll have no trouble landing yourself a fine catch to share the home cooked meals!
  • #37
  • Comment by Kerem
I just made this sauce with the original measurements for ingredients and was wondering how much pasta I should serve it with. Thank you so much!
  • #38
  • Comment by Kerem
I meant, with 1 lbs of meat...
  • #39
  • Answered by fx
Kerem, I hope your ragł was successful! I think it ought to suffice for at least 2 pounds / 1kg of dried pasta or 6 eggs' worth of fresh lasagna.
  • #40
  • Comment by Hilary - From Ireland
Francois, I am very much a begineer cook. Cooking mainly just for myself and at times having friends and family around. I tried this recipe last night on my family and it was a total success!! At least I know it is possible for even me to cook! My mother was well impressed and that says a lot seen as she is an amazing cook. This is a great site. Its so easy to follow the recipe and the added step by step photos are a brilliant help! You may turn me into a chef! Great work. Well done.
  • #41
  • Answered by fx
Hilary thank you so much for your kind words! Indeed you can cook provided you follow reliable recipes to the letter. I wish you good luck on your way to impressing your family some more. Try the beef daube, it's a great family dish that should be pleasing to Irish palates - and it's one my favorites. Good luck!
  • #42
  • Comment by wanderingtaoist
I was looking forward to trying the recipe ever since I've seen it here. Currently it is simmering (and will be for the next more than 2 hours) but so far looks quite similarly to yours, fx, so I'm looking forward to it. Thanks a lot, your writing and the photos are great inspiration.
  • #43
  • Comment by wanderingtaoist
I just wanted to say that your ragu was a triumph. My girlfriend loved it, said it's the best pasta sauce she's ever tasted. We used it on papardelle, but still have enough left in the freezer for baking lasagna later this week. Thanks!
  • #44
  • Answered by fx
Wandering Taoist, I am most happy to hear that my ragł has met with the approval of your girlfriend. Beware or soon you'll be assigned on permanent kitchen duty!
  • #45
  • Comment by Leslie
A perfect, rich, delicious ragu except for one little minor tiny detail that would have made my old Italian cooking teacher roll his eyes. The imersion blender at the end. Hmmm. I like to drain (save the liquid!) the tomatoes before adding and mince nicely before adding to the pot. Also, Chef Nespeca also did add lovely fresh minced garlic, fresh oregano and fresh basil. Anyway, that's my 2 cents. I love your recipes, the photos and the detailed instructions. Terrific!
  • #46
  • Answered by fx
Leslie, you are absolutely right that the immersion blender is not traditional at all and was only used as a last resort because I was damn hungry! The garlic, oregano and basil would probably contribute very favorably to the overall taste but they are not part of the basic, traditional recipe. I must confess that I smuggled two garlic cloves in though. Thanks for visiting!
  • #47
  • Comment by Ross
Francois, I'm just in the middle of making a big pot of ragu and to all of those people who think it's too much work, well, it's not. It's a labor of love. And I love it!
  • #48
  • Answered by fx
Ross, good luck with your ragł and let's show them what slow food means!
  • #49
  • Comment by ND
Made this over the weekend… it's almost criminal to make meat so soft… served it with unusual (in these parts) pasta called Mafaldine—dunno if the Italians would consider this sacrilege, but it was amazingly good! Beautiful instructions, and a beautiful meal. FX, I noticed that even with your unusually sharp command of English, you failed to pick up on the riotous irony of a pair of twins with the name "Simili"… guess you didn't want to offend the Donnas?
  • #50
  • Answered by fx
Nathan, thanks for trying this. Mafaldine are pretty flat so it's very much in line with what an Italian from Emilia Romagna would use. Yes, I did notice what 'Simili' means, but they apparently are dizygotic twins, couldn't call them 'The Dissimili Sisters', could I?
  • #51
  • Comment by ND
LOL! Something I'm curious about: there are zillions of different kinds of pasta. Does each one have a specific dish associated with it (in addition to other uses), or do the Italians just make so many for the sake of variety & tradition?
  • #52
  • Answered by fx
Nathan, Italians are very conservative in the sense that many dishes are set with one pasta shape matched with one specific sauce. Of course Italians are also immensely creative and do invent new dishes all the time. Where you draw your personal line between tradition and inventivity or just plain convenience, is your call. For me, since my credibility as the author of this website is derived only from its content, I prefer to piggyback on tradition and show readers time-tested combinations. But of course there is no reason to feel you are doing anything wrong if you do things with what you have on hand. I hope this helps!
  • #53
  • Comment by Beeker
Hi, fx
I'm a college student in california who was researching how to make pasta sauce from scratch and i came across this site. this recipe looks unbelievably delicious, but i have no experience in cooking (other than browning some ground beef and adding it to warmed up spaghetti sauce from a jar...i don't really think that's true cooking though). do you think you can give any tips to a guy who wants to make this but has no idea where to start? i don't have any fancy pots or cookingware and i'm not even sure where to get chicken livers or pancetta (do i go to trader joes or a specialty grocery or something?). i'm not even sure what pancetta is, that's how much of a beginner i am, but you've inspired me to try something new like this ragu bolognese. i hope you can help me. thanks!
  • #54
  • Answered by fx
Beeker, do not worry, you absolutely do not need special, fancy nor expensive cookware to do this. Just take the largest flat pan or pot you can find for the first stage where the meat is fried/sautéed over high heat. Then find yourself some large pot with a lid where all the ingredients can fit. If you don't have a big enough pot, use two or divide the quantities by two. As for the chicken liver, your best bet beyond some old-fashioned butcher shop might be an ethnic grocery store. Just call ahead to inquire. Every chicken you have ever eaten cake with a liver. The pancetta is a fancy seasoned Italian dried bacon. You could replace it with many things and still get a good result, for instance using a dried sausage, if possible a salami, or dried bacon of another kind. The idea is to add some porky flavor into the mix. And if you can't find any, just use some regular bacon. If you follow the instructions precisely, you'll get an amazing pasta sauce which you can use in many different dishes. Good luck!
  • #55
  • Comment by ND
Thanks, Francois! Out of curiosity, what would be the most authentic dish to complement the mafaldine? BTW, thanks thanks thanks for this website, and also for your responses (dunno where you get the time to work, cook, run this blog AND answer everyone's posts—in English, French, Italian & German no less! Do you have a couple of clones helping out?)
  • #56
  • Answered by fx
ND, thanks for visiting, I have to look into the mafaldine, from time to time there is a recipe but they are not hugely typical pasta shapes I think. I answer the posts, sort and correct the pictures while watching movies at night, then write the articles in the morning. The pictures are taken on trips or while cooking. Hey, we only live once and it's a really privilege to share and emulate fellow home chefs out there!
I am making this right now. At this point I have entered the "4 hour simmer" stage, and the smell is wafting through the house... I am anticipating the moment when (at 8 o'clock, Italian dinner time) the ragł will meet the pasta, and the mystical marriage will be consumed!

Thank you for the recipe - my bolognese uncle would be proud of seeing me cooking this, although I am from Parma.
  • #58
  • Answered by fx
Walter, I wish you the best success for your Bolognese, hope you can keep some for the next day!
8 PM is very early for most Italians, in restaurants in Italy most of the action starts around 9 PM I think.
Fx, it is really a geographical thing - as most things in Italy. In the North and in the countryside people eat earlier, in the South of Italy and in cities they eat later. In Lecce -about as South as you can get without ending up into the sea- people think that 9 to 10pm is a very fine time for dinner, both at home and in the restaurants.But what foreigners find really disturbing about Italy is that, outside of the appointed lunch and dinner times, there is generally no food to be had. Ok, you might find some sandwiches at the bar, or obtain shoarma... but the American tourist desiring pasta at 5pm is always out of luck. And if he finds a restaurant that serves pasta at 5pm, it will be a restaurant that specializes in sniping at American students and thus, by definition, bad and overpriced.The ragł came out very good. I am inordinately proud of it. Next experiment, the Neapolitan ragł!
This is the first time I write a blog on this page. I came across this website a week ago looking for an authentic Bolognese ragu to make for my 50th birthday party. Well, I must say I did your ragu exactly the way you said forgoing the chicken livers (could not bring ,myself to try it). It was a HUGE success!!!! Every one said it was the best ragu they had ever tasted and some of them are authentic Italians from Italy (not the U.S.). They loved it!! I will try some of your other recipes which look scrumptious. I like the fact that you seem to be a traditionalist in cooking. I believe if something taste good  why change it.  I thank you for this page which you have created. It is really interesting and the photos are beautiful. Happy Cooking! Warm Regards Carmen
  • #61
  • Answered by fx
Carmen, thank you so much for honoring my recipe by making it your 50th birthday party's meal! Indeed it is a recipe blessed by a very long tradition and the many modern versions I've seen are really never as good as the original. Amazing how people try to change it, the original Bolognese recipe is not that hard. Next time try the lasagna, same recipe plus a little béchamel and pasta. Amazing!
  • #62
  • Comment by Robert Franceschini
Obviously from my name you can deduce that I am Italian (Italian/American). I am retired and living in Thailand. I just discovered your web site while looking for an interesting recipe for garlic soup - the garlic is in the oven now - I'm wondering why you don't inclide quantities in your recipes? like the Bolognese sauce. I haven't looked at any others yet. Am I missing something? The site is beautiful and great with the photos to follow.

  • #63
  • Comment by Robert Franceschini
Sorry, sorry, sorry - I scrolled too fast and didn't see the list of ingredients and quantities.
  • #64
  • Comment by Gigi
This ragu recipe is really gooood!  My husband likes it so much, and requests me to make it once in a while.
  • #65
  • Answered by fx
Gigi, have you tried the ragł bolognese with the milk and chicken livers, like it's really done in Bologna?
  • #66
  • Comment by Love to cook
Thank you so much for your Bolognese Lasagne recipe. I followed the recipe religiously and ended up feeding nearly 33 people at a potluck. I did not mind the work it took cause I love making lasagna but your version turned out amazing. People were coming for seconds and thirds. Thank you so much.
  • #67
  • Answered by fx
Diane, thanks for the feedback, I am so glad the recipe worked for you. Potlucks are one sure way of telling if a dish is working - if people keep coming back and finish yours first, you know you have a winner! Next time you could try the Beef Daube, you can cook enormous amounts  of it and prepare it a day in advance and it is just as gorgeous. Don't let your potluck friends tie you into making the same dish every time, I hate being a one-trick-horse!
  • #68
  • Comment by Cameron Williams
I was disappointed with Marcella Hazan's recipe (I get the feeling she leaves things out on purpose); yours seems much better. I'll try yours next time.
  • #69
  • Answered by fx
Cameron, this recipe is the authentic Bologna-mama recipe, from the Simili sisters who are the authority in Italy on Bolognese cooking. There are lots or ragłs out there and it“s possible Mrs Hazan used a bastardized version that mixes two of her favorite ragłs. But this here recipe will not let you down!
  • #70
  • Comment by amir arie
Thank you very much for a great recipe, i made it yesterday and it was amazing !!! i add some cream to it...fantastic.....

Thanks again :)

  • #71
  • Answered by fx
Amir, thanks for trying this and glad it worked well for you!
  • #72
  • Comment by cerise
Wow! I'm awestruck and flabbergasted by your blog. I was searching the web today for pasta in squid ink sauce and I found you. I haven't stopped perusing since. I am excited to try this bolognese. Never thought to use chicken livers, which I absolutely love. Thank you! Merci! Salamat!
  • #73
  • Answered by fx
Cerise, I'm glad you are having fun with my website and wish you good luck with the Bolognese, this is one fine sauce!
  • #74
  • Comment by Kevin
FX - quick question, i've bought double of what you've listed, will this feed 8 hungry poker players?
  • #75
  • Answered by fx
Kevin, I'm thrilled that you will try this recipe for poker players. Yes, absolutely, with double the proportions you should feed 6-8 jack-sized poker players. But if they are king-sized poker aces, you'll need a bit more. In case of doubt buy a lot of cheese and more pasta. Good game and send me a snapshot of you and your mates eating the bolognese if you can!
  • #76
  • Comment by Kevin
Hi fx - the doubled quantity was the perfect amount for 8 hungry poker players! I also threw in 2 garlic breads -would have made these myself but since i spent so long making this  i ran out of time so had to elect for ready made.

The bolognese was perfect, the only bad thing i will say is maybe i didnt heat it with the lid off at the end for long enough, as there was a slight (not too bad but noticable) watery residue. I've had this before with other recipes.

My ragu was also reheated from the night before. Is it a case of reheating with lid off only to get rid of excess water/thicken the sauce?
  • #77
  • Answered by fx
Kevin, I did this a week or so ago and had the same problem of "too much liquid". I used a ladle to skim off the excess water and drunk it avidly while the sauce simmered, and it ended up being a tad too dry! I you have too much liquid next time, just use a laddle and slowly bury it in the sauce until the water flows into it, and you'll remove all you need.
  • #78
  • Comment by Bart

I made this recipe today -- starting prep at 2:30 PM and plating everything at 8:00 PM.  I also made fettucini from scratch using your ratio of 70g egg to 100g flour (it turned out to be too wet -- I will have to play with the ratio).  This was my first time making both bolognese and also homemade pasta, and, all in all, it was a success.  Homemade pasta has such a toothsome, warm feel to it.  It just screams "I am comfort food!".  My eight year old son ate the pasta like he was starving, but I think the sauce was too savory for him.  He cannot yet eat foods that are either too savory or too sour.

As for me, I made the recipe exactly as printed but doubled it.  Mincing the aromatic vegetables was, of course, tedious and time-consuming because my knife skills are not stellar.  I have a food processor which would have made quick work of preparing the mirepoix, but that does take some of the magic out of the recipe, n'est-ēe pas?  I had only one chicken liver whereas I needed four, but, otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly as written.  Overall, the flavor of the sauce was savory, rich, meaty, unctuous, and very warm.  When me and my partner tasted it, we immediately asked, "What is it missing?" and we both decided that it was missing garlic.  Is it normal for garlic to not appear in this recipe?  We both thought it needed it, but, then again, we eat garlic in many dishes we prepare.  I also would be tempted to add minced anchovy, chipotle chile, and some herbs (namely, bay leaf and thyme) to add even greater depth of flavor.

I also have never cooked a pasta sauce as long as I cooked this one, and it added a real depth of flavor that I didn't think could come from the pedestrian ingredients which went into it.  It just goes to show that sometimes good food means simple foods prepared with care and with time, and this dish certainly takes both.

Since I made plenty of bolognese, I intend to turn the remains of the sauce into lasagna made with bechamel sauce because I HATE ricotta cheese and this might be the lasagna that I actually like!  I will, of course, follow your recipe and report the results.  Magnifique!  I love finding recipes that are "the long, hard, and slow way" and this recipe is a prime example of such a recipe.
  • #79
  • Answered by fx
Bart, ragł usually improves when stored overnight. Although the Simili sisters are adamant that using garlic is not conform to tradition, often I add it as well as serrano chilies and cinammon. I recommend people start with the traditional recipe, then when they understand it add the twists they like. It is such a pity when you start tweaking a recipe before having ever really tried it, I find it presumptuous and you were very right to do it by the book for the first time. But please add some of your favorite spices next time you do it, in small quantities and tasting constantly. I have reservations with the anchovies in this recipe, but hey, maybe it works! As for the pedestrian ingredients, you touch a very important point to my eyes. There is really magic to be able to transform lowly run-of-the-pantry ingredients into a glorious sauce merely be applying precisely a century-old recipe with care and precisions and simmering patiently.  I think you might like the Beef Daube, also in the Seriously Slow Food tag on my site!
  • #80
  • Comment by John Dalton
When I was a student someone told me 'of course the way to cook bolognese properly is with chicken livers' (as opposed to mashed up value burgers from the local butcher). Thirty years on a quick browse confirmed this and I am trying it for the first time. It's in the oven and I'll let you know how it pans out. Chose your recipe because I love the site and your style and hopefully the authentic result Regards JD
  • #81
  • Answered by fx
John, glad you decided to trust my recipe! Using all chicken livers might be a tad too much, but a mixture will work fine. Stay away from El-cheapo burgers, they are a concentrate of refuse and pains.
  • #82
  • Comment by Kai
Thank you for this wonderful recipe and your wonderful website in general. This is the first thing (save for paneer) that I've really cooked from your recipes, although I've been a regular reader for some time.

I'm a college student, but rather than being a vegetarian without vegetables (which is your usual comment about youth) I find I just try to do too much in the kitchen; every dish I make tries to take a unique cross-cultural side road, with a number of successes but an equal number of utter failures.

This was nice because of its unpretentious simplicity, and I made myself follow the recipe exactly (except I used red wine because that is the cooking wine I had handy). It has been a great lesson in simple, straightforward cooking. Now, of course, I can't wait to try it with garlic, cinnamon, and serrano . . .
  • #83
  • Comment by Richard
Hi Francois,

I just came on to inform you (who else would I find that would be vaguely interested!!) that I am cooking up my monthly large batch of Ragu. I cook it up in two of my largest pans and do 2 Kg of beef at a time. It then gets put into 250g freezer bags and finds its home nestled in the various corners of my freezer where it can come and save a very busy day.

Out of the freezer and defrosted in a microwave while the pasta cooks ensures that my fast food is always sloooooowwwww food! It gets used as a sauce in with pasta, lasagne or tossed in with some penne and cooked in an oven covered with bechamel sauce.

The whole house is filled with the rich aroma of the Ragu and I'll certainly siphon some off for lunch before it cools to much. I often just eat it with a large hunk of fresh bread at this stage.

My best regards

  • FX's answer→ Richard, I am so happy that my Bolognese (not really mine!) became part of your diet! I will see if I can find other uses for the ragł. One is to stuff arancini (risotto leftovers could be used to make a little ball the next day, then stuff with cold ragu and cheese cubes, then flour, egg, breadcrumbs and in the fryer).

  • #85
  • Comment by Philip
I can't wait to try this - it looks wonderful. I frequently get bolognese from one of my favorite Italian restaurants and while I cook often I have never made homemade bolognese.  One question - do you recomend tossing the pasta in the sauce or just spooning some over a plate of pasta?
  • FX's answer→ Philip, if I cook for myself I usually toss pasta and sauces before serving, but if I entertain I'd make a little volcano in the pasta and spoon it over. The main point is that the pasta be not overcooked and everything be served piping hot.

  • #87
  • Comment by Philip
Hi again!  I made the sauce over the weekend and it was fantastic and very easy to make. At the point where you said to stop and smell, well I did and yes life is wonderful. Thanks so much for the recipe, I'm so glad I found your website. The pics are amazing.  One more question for you - I noticed in the pictures you have a dish with what looks like rosemary and sage but the recipe did not mention adding these.  Did I miss something?
  • FX's answer→ Philip, glad it worked for you! Yes sometimes I do tweak my ragł by adding cinnamon and sage or rosemary, but since these are not essential and not part of the original recipe, I left them out of the text. Feel free to try them now that you know how to make the canonical recipe!

  • #89
  • Comment by don siranni
Fx,even with minimum regard to the final dish,this answered many on the questions I've always wanted to know-and afraid to ask.  like,browning meat.
  • FX's answer→ Don, indeed you need to shamelessly brown the meat for the flavor to be created!

I'm ready to get down on my hands and knees and thank you for this recipe. I never thought I'd be able to make a bolognese that topped the restaurant sauce I grew up with, but this was KILLER. I'll never eat another bolognese again... I was forced to eat the jarred stuff a few days after this, and while I usually don't love it, this time it tasted like ketchup. My review of your recipe is over on my blog... nothing but good things, I can assure you!

Thanks again!!!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Emiglia, no need for this, your success is my pleasure! Bought bolognese is crap, the only way is to make your own. I checked your blog, very nice, the Cake pictures were really nice. I recommend you get a big light or flash with difuser to ensure even lighting when you take pictures - too bad if your wonderful dishes turn out dark because of low light. Good luck!

  • #93
  • Comment by bentleybeauty
that is a very stimulating recipe i will try it this weekend in Lisbon(Portugal) BUT I am not the worlds best cook
  • FX's answer→ No need for cutting edge skills to cook this properly, Bentley, just follow the recipe scrupulously and you'll have yourself an amazing dish!

  • #95
  • Comment by Joseph Rabor
Well, because of you I can now say I have eaten a true Bolognese. I have added my own special twist too. I have tried your recipe first and on subsequent presentations I have made it my own. Thank you for your work my family and friends truly enjoy our meals.
  • #96
  • Comment by Marc
Hello Franēois,

I often make a recipe from another Italian mamma (that of an Italian friend)It is actually extremely similar and the differences are: she purees the carrots (uses 2 or 3)onion and celery all raw before frying it 20min. The fried puree might account for less liquid once done. (I saw some complaining) The tomatoo are fresh and peeled and deseeded and slightly (15min) fried seperately before as well. Together with the hot milk she adds 250ml of cream to it. Otherwise the recipe is identical!

She only recommends the use of beef.

Delicious and the chicken liver is important!
Mon cher FX :

I hope you are well and busy - you haven't been on your site for a while, and i hope with all my heart you are doing well ;)

I have been cooking my spécialité, the ragu, for more than 20 years, but I must say that after reading your fantastic recipe, along with your superb pictures, my life has changed! My ragu will never be the same again! I'm just finishing it right now as I write this comment (almost nearing the end), and my father in law is drooling everywhere!

You have no idea the pleasure and hapiness you are responsible for here! Mille merci mon ami!

  • FX's answer→ Thanks Mark! What did you improve in your personal recipe based on my little article? Have fun!

Hello FX, and many thanks for your reply. I sent you more details by mail, but here, concerning the recipe, as well as the cream that I have substituted to the milk, I now recall that I've used red wine instead of white wine. That's only because the red wine was available in my kitchen and that I've oversean this as I was shopping, so next time I'll try with white wine, as well as the milk. I used the cream because... I was starving!!
  • #100
  • Comment by bertha arias-bottalico
ifound your site no too long ago, and i became obsessed with it! i just love it. question: do you think i could put the sauce to simmer in a crock pot? would it change the texture? i don't want to do it and ruin hours' work. Tambien me encantan tus recetas en espanol! love, bertha.
  • #101
  • Comment by katy
would it be possible to use lambs livers instead of chicken livers?
Ok, this is the best site EVER!!!! i'll be back. I'm going to make your lasagna and ragu for Christmas Eve dinner. I'm so excited to have a website that is this homemade and original. THANK YOU!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Michelle, follow the recipe step by step and you'll be fine. You can make the ragł the day before.

  • #104
  • Comment by Michelle Manire
is it possible to make the ragu ahead of time and freeze it till you need it? i want to make it this weekend and then use it for Christmas Eve dinner.
  • FX's answer→ I don't recommend you serve Christmas guests frozen food - might bring them bad gastronomical luck for the next year. Instead, just cook it the day before, it isn't all that difficult, once it simmers you can forget about it for a few hours. Store in the fridge overnight. Then reheat it the next day.

  • #106
  • Comment by martin
This is wonderful. I'm cooking off a bit of the liquid as I type so I can use it in the lasagna recipe. The liver adds a richness to the dish and I'm glad I used it. For anyone who dislikes liver, you really can't "taste" the liver in this dish, only a slight background flavor of, well, richness. Wonderful website, many thanks to the creator of such a beautifully done resource for those with an appetite.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Martin, and glad you tried it and the recipe worked for you!

  • #108
  • Comment by Don
AWESUME!!! Made this today for the lasagna and it was wonderful. Had to do a test run for my daughter's birthday lunch, which is Sunday. My sis said it was like an expensive restaurant dish. What do you usually include in your bouquet garni? The chicken livers add to the unami savoryness of the dish; don't leave them out.
  • FX's answer→ Glad it worked for you! You can add a little sage or even a bouquet garni if you want, although this is French and the dish is Italian, but who's to see?

  • #110
  • Comment by Alexandra
FX, such is my optimism for this recipe I scaled up x4; I have spent a happy evening preparing and chopping but just realised it is now 11pm and I will need to wake up at 3 am to check on the vat of ragu in the oven (oops!)....I'm using my stock pot which just fits in the oven if I invert the lid so that the handle is inside; it smells divine and I feel greedily impatient! Thank you again. Alexandra
  • #111
  • Comment by Ken Matley
First, let me say that since I found your website a couple of months ago I have been working my way through your recipes. My results have ranged from excellent to spectacular. I particularly appreciate that you do not spell out every recipe in detail, as I encourages  me to cook, “beyond the recipe.”

I made your ragu Bolognese in January and loved it! I live alone for the moment so nobody else was available to critique it, but I  was completely taken by the recipe and by the process. As I am a complete hepatophobe (I was raised on a Nevada cattle ranch where liver (overcooked and completely nasty) was a regular item on the dinner table. For 17 years I suffered, “how do you know you don’t like it if you don’t try it.” So I’d try it once again, gag, and leave the table.), I left out the chicken liver, but that has been bothering me ever since. Because your advice has always yeilded excellent results, I decided to give it a go.

Sunday I made a double batch of your recipe. After completing the vegetable garnish I divided the meat (beef and pork from the farmers’ market) into two batches. I took a bit of the veggies and oil from the garnish and in a separate pan sauted about 1 1/2 chicken livers. When they were cooked I pureed them with a bit of chicken broth. After the meat was browned, instead of deglazing just with wine as you described, I did a multiple deglazing a la Paul Bertolli, beginning with the wine, followed by three more deglazings with chicken broth. In one batch I used only wine and chicken broth, and in the other the chicken broth-liver puree was used for one of the deglazings.

When all was done. The ragu without the chicken livers was a knock-your-socks-off marvel, with incredible depth of flavor. The ragu with the chicken livers was even richer, but also had a very faint—but unmistakable—aftertaste of liver. At first I thought it was OK, and ate a plate of penne with the liver-included ragu, but as the evening progressed the liver aftertaste did not go away, until by bedtime I was picturing giving the dogs Kibble Bolognese in the morning. Instead, I packaged up the liver ragu to give to friends. Probably nobody but me would be put off by it, but as I mentioned above I was liver-traumatized at an early age.

The point of this whole rant is that, although the liver flavor might melt into the background for most people, those of us who are hypersensitive to it will still detect it in the finished ragu. For me, it doesn’t matter, for without the liver this is one of the best things ever to come out of my kitchen!

I am eagerly anticipating trying the rest of your recipes over the next few months.
  • #112
  • Comment by Jirina
Hello from Prague, Czech Republic. I tried your serious ragu recipe on a very serious occasion: the first dinner at home with my daughter and her loved one! It was excellent, many thanks to you!
  • #113
  • Comment by Al Martino
Buonissimo. Ho provato molte versioni di questo ragł di Bologna. Questa č la pił autentica.. Gratzie Mille
  • #114
  • Comment by fo sho yo yo
SINNER. You put bay leaves, I can see them in one of the photos! This is not Ragu Bolognese!
  • #115
  • Comment by rusty shackleford
Hey I need some advice on this recipe.  I did what you said and waited until I couldn't smell the wine anymore and then added the milk(half and half).  However the milk curdled when I did this.  How can I prevent curdling next time?
  • #116
  • Comment by kaj
Thank you so much for this recipe. I've been cooking bolognese for 15 years and it always had the smell of 'meat'. Your recipe had me create the best bolognese i have ever tasted (and i've lived in italy for a year). Thank you and I will certainly always remember this recipe!
  • #117
  • Comment by maria
ouh, lą j'ai adoré, vraiment trop bon. quoique un peu difficile parfois de lire en anglais. Felicitations pour votre site. un salud d'amérique du sud
  • #118
  • Comment by don siranni
Francois,It took me two years but today I finally did it!It still has another hour to go in the dutch oven.Along with your lasagna post using it,I'm planning to freeze some for my first ravioli mission.I made,as you did, a double batch.My new question is concerning the best sauce(if any at all) to make for the raviolis. Is the "all aribbatta" sauce that I really like from elsewhere on FX,a good one to use for ravioli,,or maybe another more traditional-or appropriate one. Thanks
  • FX's answer→ Don, if you are making ravioli, the best sauce is no sauce. Perhaps a few sage leaves gently fried in melted butter, but raviolis with proper stuffing suffer from sauce. Arrabiata is from the South of Italy, not many stuffed pasta there, this is a sauce for macaroni. Good luck!

  • #120
  • Comment by william
the recipe sounds awesome and authentic most people are making chili and add cream, keep up the good work. bolongna would be proud
  • FX's answer→ Thanks for your kind words!

  • #122
  • Comment by Judy Heisserer
I found your artical very, very intersting and will be looking forward to making your sauce.  I enjoy making my homemade pastas and am always interested in other ideas.  My husband enjoys anything made Italian.  We are more use to the red sauces so this will be a new adventure.  Do you use more red sauces or more white sauces in your region?  Thanks for taking for sharing your information.  A friend and I teach pasta classes as best as we can and all always are amazed with what you can do. I have had my Aatlas pasta hand crank for more than 30 years and it is still in good working form.
Again thanks for sharing!!!  Judy
  • #123
  • Comment by eric
Thanks for sharing the recipe!

But I'm pretty sure that whole "add oil to butter so the butter won't burn" thing is just a myth. It certainly makes no sense at all. If the milk solids in butter burn at 350 F, it doesn't matter how much oil you add. As soon as they get to 350, they burn. It's like: humans get burned well below 200 F, but a good robot can survive 500 F easily. That doesn't mean that if you add a bunch of robots to a room full of humans that the humans will suddenly become fireproof.

Probably a lot healthier to mix butter with oil, though!
  • #124
  • Comment by marton

That is not correct. Mixture of fluids can and DO have different boiling/melting points. Just think of your antifreeze fluids which are alcohol(ethylene-glycol probably) and water mixtures, also a bottle of vodka won't freeze like a bottle of water below 0 Celsius.

Salty water has a lower freezing point and a higher boiling point than regular distilled water.How would you explain then why water doesn't boil at 100 degrees Celsius when I add salt to it? Going by your example water should boil and salt should remain if I keep the temperature at 100 Celsius.

I don't really want to dig deep in this matter here, but temperature is basically motion on molecular level, the less motion, the less energy(motion energy) the molecule has.

So you apply heat, which creates more motion in the molecules which is transferred when they collide, so they lose some motion energy every collision. Oil molecules act as a "rubber wall" for butter molecules which keep bouncing into them losing energy.

Basically a molecule burns when it collides with an oxigen molecule with enough motion energy to break its peaceful state, separate the bond between the atoms and form a new ones. You supply this motion energy via heat.

This is a basic explanation not a scientific one, but the sum is that when oil is added to butter, the one of them acts as a buffer to soak up the energy of the other molecules(via colliding) and it does not let them aquire enough energy to cause a reaction with oxygen hence not burning. And since one of them needs considerably more energy to "burn" it keeps the mixture HOT and on a molecular level the stable.

Also there might be some hydrogen-bond stabilization and double-bond stuff in play which I don't know about. But the result is the same, oil+butter mix can take up more heat.

By the way awesome recipe. Just WOW. All my life I only had ragu bolognese made from powder, but after this there is no going back. Good thing I live in Hungary and we use chicken liver for some traditional dishes usually in large quantities like half a kilogram or more.
At the market everyone looked at me like I was an idiot for asking for two chicken livers which cost less than the nylon bag they gave it in.

  • #125
  • Comment by C Giunta
At LAST an autentico Ragu Bolognese online. Been doing almost exactly the same for years but it's nice to see someone who gets it.
  • #126
  • Comment by Jenny
Hi FX, Wow! I've just stumbled upon your website whilst looking for an authentic Bolgnese ragu. . . Superb!! The recipe, your knowledge, passion and attention to detail has truly inspired me. I knew chicken livers were part of the recipe so I added them to my search criteria and thankfully found your site, I love your profile (especially loved the last picture!) and will be making regular jaunts to your culinary world from now on. To those who expressed how terribly difficult it must be to get chicken livers in boring old England, I got mine in Waitrose! My, how times have changed, eh? And to the guy who disputed the oil & butter theory - heat two pans, throw a knob of butter in one and another in the other with a drop of oil and watch! Funny how some people tend to call anything they don't understand myths. Loved the next guy's answer, by the way. Kudos!
  • #127
  • Comment by Michael Near
I lived in Bologna for a while and ate at several dozen friends homes. All of the ladies I know do NOT use chicken liver in the Bolognese sauce. Yet you call it essential. I am curious where you got that from????? On the whole your recipe looks close to authentic but not spot on sorry to say. Go to Bologna and ask around, I think you will not find chicken liver in the sauce.
  • FX's answer→ Hello Michael, thanks for a very valid question that had me hit the books last night. Well, in La cucina Bolognese (1996 edition without pictures inside) by no less than Alessandro Molinari Pradelli, the recipe for ragł bolognese lists fegato di pollo as optional ingredient. But in the book I cite in the article, by the Simili sisters, there is a whole chapter about this ragł with a passionate argument in favor of using chicken livers to increase the depth of flavour. If you try it you may be convinced yourself. When publishing articles about traditional italian recipes, I am quite used now to receive comments in the my-grandma-does-it-different style, as regional food identity is very important in Italy and many people conceive canonical recipes as being an approximation of a Platonic ideal written by God in the sky. I am not saying that my grandmas are better than yours, your approach is valid too but this remains a very authentic rendering of the archetypal Bolognese ragł, methinks.

  • #129
  • Comment by Ryan
Hello! First off, amazing site, thank you for your effort.

I made this the other night, and it was good but I think my seasoning is off, most notably the meat.  In some of my favorite local resturants who do it right, I notice when I bite into the meat a rush of flavor, sort of like the smells you get when cooking the onion/celery/carrot, burst out.  I had no bursting, just rather bland meat.  The sauce itself was rather good, but my guess is I seasoned to late.

So my question is, at what stages do you add salt? I have read that adding salt when cooking onions can make them tougher (so I didnt).  Since making this other recipes have said add a large pinch (about a teaspoon) either right before or after you add the meat (I did not do this ).

Also - which cuts of meat are best for this?  I hate buying the pre packaged stuff.

Thank You!
  • #130
  • Comment by Ryan
Also - I Marcella Hazan says to add salt right after you add the meat to extract its juices, which may be why I did not since I thought the goal was to keep them in for this recipe.
  • FX's answer→ Good tip thanks.

  • #132
  • Comment by sue lyon
i am afraid of adding milk to a dish that contains tomatoes, afraid it will curdle the sauce. i just made a big pot of ragu tho i added sage, rosemary, also some ground fennel and much more garlic left out the chicken livers but will try that next time. tell me about adding milk. i will if you think it will not ruin the sauce.
  • FX's answer→ The milk might curdle but it won't show in the ragł. If this worries you, uncle Francois has a solution. Just remove one cup full of sauce with as much liquid as you manage to, then blitz this until very smooth, and put it back. It will act as a natural thickener.

  • #134
  • Comment by Mephistophiles
Wonderful...I'm making this tonight again for guests.
  • Comment by fx, 1
I hope this was a success!
  • #136
  • Comment by Pam
Hi Mr. Fx!
I'm planning to make your Ragu Bolognese for the first time and when I look at your phot that has everything prepped and ready to cook, see see fresh herbs.. rosemary theyme and basil I think. These herbs are not in your ecipe list so I'm writing to ask if I should use them?
Pam who lives in the middle of nowhere.
  • FX's answer→ Well you could definitely use woody herbs (not basil) to increase depth of flavor

Hi Serena, I really ejeoynd this recipe first because I love bolognese and second because I learned something new. I didn't realize the history or the important tip about cooking in the oven as if it were a stew. I've never used cumin and cinnamon in sauce before. Would you kindly email me the full recipe? Thanks for sharing this. Warmly, Stephanie
  • FX's answer→ Cinammon in savory sauce is fantastic!

  • #140
  • Comment by Paul
Hi Mr FX,I cook a lot and have experimented many times with versions of this sauce. Several of my own interpretations mixed in there.I have to say I've looked for a more authentic recipe many times and having stumbled across this am chuffed to bits.It's really, really good. Thank you, I really appreciate it.To those who speak of tweaking this, and 'adding a twist to that', may I just say some things are simply best left alone.Paul.
  • FX's answer→ Yes I think you may be right, this is a time approved version from a place that knows about food!

  • #142
  • Comment by Leticia
So glad I came across your site. Loved it so far, love your pictures and your simple approach to food. Thanks for sharing this with us. And for the first time in my life I have heard about chicken liver in bolognese sauce. Living and learning!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Leticia! Indeed the small piece of chicken liver is a trick used by some Bolognese mamas to increase depth of flavor, well worth trying!

  • #144
  • Comment by Rita coufal
Very inspirational presentation and  love the clear and concise directions. My ragu is at this moment in the finishing stages and tastes fabulous, I keep snaking a taste. You are a culinary gem, grazie Mille.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks, glad the recipe worked out good for you!

  • #146
  • Comment by Bill
I am making your recipe now and am very excited! I don't like chicken livers but am trusting your expertise. I am also trying it in a crock pot, we'll see how it comes out.

thanks for your efforts
  • FX's answer→ Try a wee bit of chicken liver in the sauce and yeah shall not be disappointed!

2 time we made this fantastic recipe!, 1st time exactly as described, last nite I threw in 1 cinnamon stick & 1 Serrano , just tasted and love it! Why not?
Serving 8 this eve(made enuf for 12) with Tuscan bean soup/Italian sausage/& kale
Tummy& thx larry in ohio
Now I have made this the 7th time. Still bubbling on the range with 2 more hrs to go. it's a sure fire classic like all of FX's...

Only sad thing is that FX has gone awol. Wonder when the resurrection will happen. For foodies, it will no less than a second coming!
  • FX's answer→ The second coming has arrived, the end is nigh! Behold two new articles on FXcuisine. Very flattered to have such a devoted Indian reader.

  • #151
  • Comment by gautam
Hi fx,

Beautifully produced, as usual, as thorough. One comment about the tomatoes: someone (Mark?)on June 28/2009, upthread wrote about his Italian friend's mother "frying" her tomatoes.

This is also a truc I have learned both from Mario Batali's ragu, and from the series "Cooking in Russia" to make ragus with great success.

Another lesson learned was that a good ragu is a meat sauce with [ a tiny (!!) bit of] tomatoes, not a red tomato sauce with meat, as is the case in America!!

Batali allows the meats to render fat into the sofrito, and to get pretty brown in their own considerable fat! Into this, a tube of Italian tomato paste is added and cooked well, before adding the wine, and the milk.

Cooking In Russia always has the tomatoes, be it concasse or passata, sit on the base of hot fat + stuff for a while, as the lower portion of it becomes dehydrated, cooked and fried into a paste. Only then is the upper layer turned over and mixed into the meat, etc. This reminds me of the Indian way of cooking pureed tomatoes in hot oil to create an intense flavor, before adding spices. Since we did not have the advantage of either canned tomato paste or passata/puree, only the fresh puree or concasse was available, with its greater water content. Hence, this device, most probably. It also allows for a more intense red color to develop.

Thanks for all your excellent tutorials.
  • FX's answer→ Interesting tip indeed!

  • #153
  • Comment by deb
Dennis, looking forward to trying your recipe. I have made many versions over the years and this is intriguing. My question is about the sauce pan that you use. I would like to find a similar one but every search refers to 'cast' iron, which I have, but yours does not look to be the same. Can you provide any additional information regarding your pan please? Thank you.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks, Deb, indeed cast iron is what you want, for instance Le Creuset or other brands. It has to be very heavy, if it looks right but is very light, then it is aluminum and not so good...

Wow! Welcome back, FX! That I am overjoyed and overwhelmed, is a very serious understatement :) Stay forever, please!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks a lot for your kinds words!

  • #157
  • Comment by Mauro Filicori
Thrilled to see that your great blog is back.

As a former resident of Bologna I had to go  right away to your ragu' ricetta......Question? No nutmeg? Not even a few grinding of Noce Moscata?
  • FX's answer→ Thanks! Just a wee bit of nutmeg...

  • #159
  • Comment by Mauro Filicori
Sorry, sorry....Re-reading the ingredients list I see that I missed the words......"Few grindings of nutmeg " right after ...." Salt, pepper and ...."
  • FX's answer→ No worry! Coming from a former Bolognese I was bracing for a torrent of my-nonna-did-it-different so glad you like the recipe!

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