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Plate with tagliatelle with ragout sauce

Authentic Tagliatelle al ragù Recipe

Bologna, the city in the heart of Emilia-Romagna

Locals describe Bologna as “la dotta” (the learned, from the university), “la rossa”, (the red, from its roofs), and most importantly for us, “la grassa” (the fat, from its food). This city is an unmissable stop for foodies seeking the authentic Italy. The city is large enough to keep you busy, but small enough to explore by foot, with history, secrets and fascinating details everywhere you look.

The streets are lined with over 38 km of beautiful porticoes, which you can follow all the way up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca, if you're up for a hike. Plus there's Italy's tallest leaning tower, the Torre degli Asinelli: the view is breathtaking, well worth the 498 steps to reach it! All that walking is sure to leave you with an appetite... Lucky you're in one of Europe's food capitals!

View of Asinelli tower, the historical center of Bologna and Sanctuary of San Luca

Spaghetti alla bolognese, between myth and reality

Many travellers come to Bologna expecting to find the original Spaghetti alla Bolognese. After all, the name does lead you to think the dish comes from Bologna... However, this is a myth! Spaghetti alla Bolognese do exist (as described here), but it'is actually a loose interpretation of the traditional bolognese sauce, which is called ragout. Ragout is always served with handmade tagliatelle pasta, as the shape and texture is the ideal vehicle to hold onto those delicious flavours.

Bolognese ragout

Ragout is a simple and humble sauce. You don't need herbs or complicated ingredients. You don't need garlic. You don't need basil. All you need is time. That's the key to very best ragù, the type that makes Bolognese people misty-eyed and nostalgic as they think of their nonna or mamma on a Sunday morning.

Set aside at least 3-4 hours to allow your ragù to simmer away slowly. The complex flavours and textures need time to develop, and that's what will give your sauce depth of flavour. Stir it every now and then, and marvel as your kitchen fills with the gorgeous scent of a family Sunday in Bologna. 

While your ragù is bubbling away, you'll have plenty of time to make handmade tagliatelle, just like the Bolognese families do. Check the recipe to make fresh egg pasta!

Cesarina making bolognese ragout

Bolognese ragout

The recipe to prepare a Bolognese ragù with a "round" and hearty flavor

Preparation time20m
Cooking time4h


  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 celery
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 300 gr minced pork
  • 300 gr minced beef
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  • 500 gr tomato passata
  • 500-600 gr fresh tagliatelle


  • Chop the carrot, celery and onion very finely.
  • In a large pan, heat some olive oil and add the chopped vegetables. Sweat them over a low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes (this is called “soffritto”). 
  • When the vegetables have softened, add the meat to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly until the meat browns. 
  • When the meat has browned, pour the white wine into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes so the alcohol evaporates. 
  • Stir in the tomato passata. Then, fill the passata bottle with water, shake it up, and pour the water into the pan (this cleans the bottle and avoids food waste).
  • Season the sauce with salt and pepper, stir, and wait until the sauce reaches simmering point. 
  • As soon as the sauce starts to simmer, turn the heat down low, put a lid on the pan, and leave to cook for at least 3 hours (even more, if you can). Stir the sauce occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. If the sauce looks a little too thick or starts to stick, you can stir in more water. 
  • While your ragù is cooking, prepare your fresh tagliatelle. You can find the recipe for fresh pasta here.

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