Comin’ in hot with another pasta recipe for you guys this week! This time, for another Italian classic: Tagliatelle alla Bolognese.
IMHO, there’s nothing NOT to love about Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. Like the Classic Spaghetti Carbonara recipe that I shared a little while ago, this is another example of a dish whose beauty lies in its simplicity (as with all good Italian cuisine).
But first things first: let’s get this whole Bolognese thing right!
What’s a Bolognese and How Should it be Eaten?
If you grew up like me and your parents aren’t Italian, chances are, they made Spaghetti Bolognese (or just called it “spaghetti”). But, did you know that Spaghetti Bolognese is not, in fact, an Italian invention? It’s true. Spaghetti Bolognese was invented and popularized outside of Italy.
Ragù alla Bolognese—i.e. the meat sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy—is not traditionally served with spaghetti noodles at all. In Bologna, it’s served with tagliatelle or lasagna! Hence today’s, more authentically Italian, recipe: Tagliatelle al Ragù alla Bolognese (or just Tagliatelle al Ragù, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, or Tagliatelle Bolognese).
Got it? Good!
Fresh vs. Store-Bought Pasta
As for the type of pasta, I think hardly anyone would argue with the fact that fresh pasta is usually best. But, have you ever tried making fresh pasta before?! Truth be told, it’s NOT as easy as it may seem. Much respect to all the nonnas, because IT. IS. SO. HARD! And don’t let those YouTube videos fool you either. Making fresh pasta is definitely a labour of love, especially without a pasta maker (which I wouldn’t recommend doing, not even to my worst enemy).
Even with a pasta maker, I had a lot of difficulty. I’m sure making fresh pasta gets easier with practice. But to be completely honest, it wasn’t worth all the added effort for me. Especially since I live so close to a market, where I can buy fresh pasta and really good quality dry pasta.
Bottom line: if you’re already a pro at making fresh pasta, then by all means! Otherwise, pick up some fresh tagliatelle from a market or Italian food store, or some good quality dry tagliatelle, and you’d be all set!
Ingredients You Cannot Substitute
That being said, there are a few essential things you absolutely cannot skip out on for this recipe:
- Soffritto – the Italian equivalent of a French mirepoix. This mixture of aromatics (carrot, onion, celery, and I always include garlic) forms the flavour base of the sauce.
- Wine – there are different schools of thought regarding whether the wine should be red or white. I think either works, so long as it’s good quality and meant to be drunk (no cooking wine pls!)
- Milk – yes, milk! May sound odd in a tomato-based sauce, but the milk helps to round out the sauce and cut a lot of the bitterness out. I’ve seen different accounts regarding when to pour the milk in (i.e. at the same time as the stock, towards the end). My take? So long as you’re using it and give it enough time to marry with the rest of the ingredients, you’re golden!
- Time – I’d be wary of any Bolognese recipe that takes an hour or less. You need to give the ingredients time to simmer in your pot. The longer the simmer, the more complex and concentrated the flavour becomes. I like to simmer for at least an hour, but many recipes call for around 2 hours.
Hungry yet? Here’s the recipe.
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese
- 150 g pancetta cut into lardons
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 large carrot finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1 cup dry white wine or red wine
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and brown (do not over-crisp). Once browned, remove about 2/3 excess fat, leaving the remainder in the pot. Remove pancetta and set aside.
- Turn heat down to medium/medium-low. In the same pot, add onions, celery, and carrots to saute, stirring frequently. After a couple minutes, add garlic. Continue cooking until translucent. Add salt & pepper to taste.
- Add ground beef and ground pork to pot, breaking the meat into smaller pieces. Add tomato paste and stir. Turn heat back up to medium-high. Add wine to de-glaze. Stir until wine has almost completely evaporated.
- Add chicken stock & bay leaves. Add pancetta back to the pot. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for anywhere between 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. If the sauce gets too dry, adjust with chicken stock.
- When you have about 20 minutes left of simmering, add milk. Stir. If necessary, adjust salt & pepper. Cover and let simmer.
- Serve over tagliatelle. Enjoy!
I hope you enjoy this Bolognese recipe!