Ciao Amici! It’s finally Thanksgiving week and I hope this post finds you well. Today I wanted to share another easy and yummy Italian recipe, some delicious Ragù Bolognese. This savory meat sauce is perfect to eat on pasta, polenta, or simply on a slice of bread.
While most people will claim to know the recipe for the authentic ragù, you can bet your socks they don’t know what they are talking about. There is no such thing as an original recipe. You see, the word ragù refers to any type of sauce containing ground meat. Furthermore, ragù changes drastically depending on the region you live in. My grandmother, who was born and raised in Ciociaria (a mountain area in the heart of the Lazio region), would make ragù with tracchiulelle (baby spare ribs). In Rome, people add chicken giblets to their sauce, which gives the sauce a bitter aftertaste. In Piemonte, you might find some ragù made with rabbit and no tomato sauce. As you can see, there isn’t a one-recipe-fit-all for it.
I have to say my favorite ragù is the Bolognese ragù. I just love the minced veggies. My mom learned how to make this recipe from my dear aunt Graziella, who is a true Bolognese woman – I swear she makes the best tortellini!
Whether you make a beef, rabbit, sausage, or white ragù, one thing remains true to every recipe, and that is time. A good ragù must simmer for many hours. This allows the meat and veggies to become tender, while the sauce thickens. Neapolitans joke that grandma’s ragù is often so thick and so concentrated that if you stain your shirt, you might as well throw it away, ’cause there’s no way you can remove that stain. And don’t get me started on the pressure of eating spaghetti while sitting at the table covered with grandma’s pristine tablecloth.
As I mentioned in my earlier post about chili, I sometimes struggle with time. While I love creating recipes that take longer cooking time, I often cannot afford to spend time home supervising the food on the stove. I would love to, but I don’t think my boss would consider that as a good enough reason to let me work remotely. Hence, the crockpot. It’s perfect for this recipe. Now I can cook my mom’s ragù while I am at work and come home to a tasty meal.
Here are a few things to consider when cooking ragù in a crockpot:
- Minced not chopped. This recipe calls for minced vegetables, not chopped. You want the vegetables to cook and almost become translucent so they mix with the meat. Since mincing the vegetables can take some time, I usually prepare the onions, carrots, and celery the day before. I just sit down at the table with my handy knife and cutting board, turn on a movie, and mince away.
- The most important part of preparing this recipe is browning the vegetables in wine (soffritto) before adding them to the crockpot.
- Browning searing the meat is vital. This will give a little crisp to the meat and will allow you to season it before placing it in the crockpot.
- Adding bouillon to your sauce is completely optional. My mom always adds a Knorr cube to her ragù as she says it adds more flavor to the sauce. I’m not sure if it is true, but who am I to complain with mamma…
- 1lb ground beef
- 1 onion minced
- 2 stalks of celery minced
- 2 carrots minced
- 1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp / 1 cube beef bouillon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup red wine
- Start by sweating the onions, carrots, and celery in the olive oil. Cook until tender.
- Add the beef to the pan and start browning the meat.
- Slowly add the red wine and cook until beef until wine has reduced.
- Pour warm ingredients in the crock-pot and add salt, pepper, bouillon, and tomatoes. Stir thoroughly.
- Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4.
- Serve with pasta and Parmesan cheese.
Have you ever had ragù before? What kind? Let me know in a comment below.