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This is exactly how I make it (ok, I omit the butter), and it is delicious. I once made it without celery (I was in Turkey, where it is not very common), and it was decent but, as you say, not as good. Also, a bit of tomato paste really ramps up the flavor (and is a component of the "official" registered Bolognese recipe).

The real trick, I think, is dicing the vegetables extremely small so that they melt away into the sauce. It also helps to sweat them for a good while before adding the meat. Crunchy veggies just *ruin* the effect.

WOW! Maybe this really IS the way this recipe reads in "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking," but it is WAY different (and SO much better) in Marcella Hazan's "The Classic Italian Cookbook." Just a few key differences: 2 TABLESPOONS each of the chopped onion, carrot and celery. And most important of all: You add and cook down the wine BEFORE doing the same with the milk. (This is really key to the meat being optimally tender.)

I was too lazy to get out my cookbook and foolishly followed the recipe above before realizing the differences... result was WAY worse than my usual. Can't really believe Marcella changed it so much from one cookbook to another, but "The Classic Italian Cookbook" recipe rules.

Got me. We've been making it this way for years, and we like it. Different tastes, I guess!

I follow the same recipe, but I use a 1/2 pound of ground chuck and 1/4 pound ground pork. The latter takes this bolognese from delicious to incredible (perhaps even epic).

Apparently this dish is controversial even in Italy. The UK version of it, referenced in the article, is a travesty, but the official recipe is similar to what we've got above:

MARIO CARAMELLA'S TRADITIONAL BOLOGNESE RAGÙ

To achieve a great result, this sauce should be made fresh every morning and served within a few hours.

INGREDIENTS

Makes approx 4.4lb

* 600g coarsely ground lean beef
* 400g coarsely ground lean pork
* 200g pancetta diced or chopped
* 100g chopped onion
* 100g carrot diced
* 100g celery diced
* 1kg tomato peeled (canned)
* 300ml dry white wine
* 500ml fresh milk
* 3 bay leaves
* Black pepper and salt to taste

METHOD

Cook the pancetta in a large stainless steel saucepan over a low flame until the fat is melted. Add the onion and stir until the onion is translucent.

Add the carrot, celery and bay leaves and cook until the vegetables start to soften.

Raise the flame to very high and add the ground meats, which should have been mixed and seasoned with salt and black pepper.

Stir until the meat is well-cooked.

Add the white wine and continue to cook on a high heat until all the liquid has evaporated.

Briefly pulse the peeled tomatoes in a food processor and add to the pot.

Continue cooking over a low flame for at least two hours. If it starts to look a little dry, add some beef stock.

Add some milk little-by-little, stirring and cooking over a low heat for a further hour.

Season to taste and leave to rest before serving with tagliatelle.

Article Here

I love this ragu and I've got the belly to prove it.

I strongly agree with Carly Plume - a couple of years after her post. The wine first, cooked down, and then the milk. I see Maria Caramella's recipe uses that order too. I've never added pork, but should try that one of these days. I agree with the two tablespoons comment - I follow the Classic Italian Cook Book too. (I had it originally as two small paperbacks, then bought a later edition where it was compounded into one book.)

This ragu comes out to be a velvety meat sauce.

I can imagine I'd still like the ragu if I added a good pancetta (hard to get in my city) and a bit of tomato paste... but I fear fooling around with a very good sauce.

I've been making this for 25 years, following Marcella to the word. I have traveled by ferry from an island to the mainland to find celery because it IS that essential, as is cooking the meat in the milk BEFORE the wine. Sometimes I squirt a little tomato paste from a tube towards the end, but it simply *must* simmer for 3 hours. If you don't have time to make it properly, stop after adding the tomatoes and finish the next day.

I might be the odd one out with mile before the wine, but I learned from Hazan herself in Bologna.

I followed Chick's recipe to the letter and ended up with a tasteless result, and lots of it, as I thought since it took so long to evaporate the milk and wine, and then an additional 3 hours cook time, it would save time in the long run to double the recipe, and freeze some. I suspect flavor was lost, not enhanced, by the lengthy simmering. There are other Bolognese recipes around that don't require all that simmering, include different ingredients, and hopefully provide a more flavorful result.

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