Ragù Bolognese

Mac & Cheese is to Americans what Spag Bol is to British.

To be more clear: Mac & Cheese = elbow pasta with a cheese sauce; Spag Bol = Spaghetti Bolognese.

To be fair the American label for their favorite comfort food is fairly accurate.

The British label for their favorite nursery food is not even close to spaghetti with a real Ragù Bolognese.

Not to be too critical, Spag Bol is probably closer to the American version of a tomato sauce made with… tomato sauce.

Or maybe even the tomato soup from the red & white can.

But… it is considered nursery food – as in food for kids. Like a PB & J (peanut butter and jelly sandwich – which I, personally, find a bit disgusting).

In other words Spag Bol is, or can be, a bit bland and boring.

This is a real Ragù Bolognese.

Okay, it’s as real as an American expat living in France can make it with a recipe from a real Italian cook book. I’m sure, like most classics, there are as many recipes for Ragù Bolognese as there are people living in Bologna.

This one is mine.

It is easy…. but not quick.

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Ragù Bolognese

This is a recipe based on one from an Italian cook book I had years ago. For a pasta sauce it’s traditional to add cream or milk; for other uses (such as risotto) the dairy is left out. 

  • Author: Kate
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 70 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta Sauce


  • 4oz (125gr) Prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 4oz (125gr) ground pork
  • 16oz (500gr) ground beef 
  • 1 large onion, about 1 cup minced 
  • 1 medium carrot, about 1/3 cup minced
  • 2 ribs celery, about 2/3 cup minced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed 
  • 1 tbs olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 3/4 cups (15oz, 450gr) whole tomatoes, peeled, chopped, juices reserved
  • 4 tbs tomato paste or 1 small can 
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 12oz (360gr) tagliatelle 


  • Heat 1 tbs oil in skillet. 
  • Add the vegetables and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes. 
  • Remove and put into a large sauce pan or deep skillet.
  • Put the Prosciutto, pork and beef into the same skillet. 
  • Sauté until cooked through and brown, breaking it up as small as you can.
  • Pour in the wine, turn the heat up and boil until most of the liquid has cooked off, stirring to get up any browned bits in the skillet. 
  • Add the meat and remaining liquid to the vegetables. 
  • Add broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs and nutmeg to sauce. 
  • Bring to a boil, stir well, cover partially, reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • 20 minutes before serving heat water for pasta
  • Boil tagliatelle
  • Drain pasta, divide onto 6 plates, top with sauce and serve.
  • Refrigerate unused sauce for later or freeze for up to 4 months.


I chop the vegetables finely, but you can use a food processor (if you have one). 
If you don’t have US measuring cups use a coffee / tea mug.
Use a large sauce pan, Dutch oven or deep skillet. You want a lot of surface area so the sauce thickens as it simmers – but not too much or it could get too dry.


  • Serving Size: 1 plate
  • Calories: 471
  • Sugar: 6.9 g
  • Sodium: 590.7 mg
  • Fat: 10.8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.6 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 55 g
  • Fiber: 5.1 g
  • Protein: 33.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 67.4 mg

Keywords: ragu bolognese, spaghetti,

Tagliatelle with Bolognese

It makes enough for 6 generous servings or, in our case, enough for Tagliatelle with Ragù Bolognese, Risotto Bolognese, and Lasagne Bolognese.

I made Risotto Bolognese the next night:

Risotto with Ragù Bolognese

Make any standard Risotto recipe and use 1 cup of the Bolognese sauce and 1 cup of white beans for the Condimenti. It’s that easy !

The recipe for Lasagne Bolognese is a bit more complicated. I put the rest of the Ragù in the freezer and made the lasagne the following weekend. I’ll post that recipe next time.

7 thoughts on “Ragù Bolognese”

  1. I think you are under-estimating the typical homemade spag bol. Btw, whilst I was perfectly familiar with macaroni cheese all my life, I’d never heard it called mac’n’cheese until I was middle aged. Even today I still register mac’n’cheese as a McDonald’s cheeseburger and have to consciously make the switch.

    • It’s likely that I am – I’ve only been exposed to the version whipped up in a hurry to feed the kids lunch.
      Now I want a cheeseburger – but not from McDo’s. Either the French version or the current version world-wide is not nearly as good as my memory of them (could also be the memory).

  2. I’ve never been a fan of bolognese but I think that’s in part because the very few times I’ve had it, there were more carrots than mean and carrots aren’t my favorite. We had spaghetti yesterday for dinner with sweet italian sausage and meatballs. I did not grow up on mac-n-cheese however because it’s not a dish the Scots typically make, I guess. They do make a macaroni pie, but it’s different.

    • The carrots should be minced small enough that you barely notice them – and absolutely should not overpower the meat lol
      We had ‘Creamettes and Cheese’ occasionally on a Friday night. I liked it – but even more I liked the fact that it was always followed by chocolate pudding.

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