Bolognese Ragu

“Bologna is one of the gastronomic capitals of Italy, and this meat sauce is one of its glories,” says Luke Palladino, chef/owner of Luke Palladino restaurant at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City. “It works on many different shapes of pasta, and its heartiness makes it great for this time of year.”

Photo by David Michael Howarth.


¼ cup olive oil
¼ pound butter
½ cup pancetta, diced

1 onion, peeled and cut into pieces
1 carrot, peeled and cut into pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into pieces
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
Ground in house:
1 pound Pork shoulder
1 pound Veal breast
½ pound Beef chuck
½ cup dried porcinis, soaked in warm water
2 cups, non-oaked White wine
1 qt chicken/beef stock (Italian brodo)
1 16 oz. can whole tomatoes, passed through a food mill

2 Cloves
½ Cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon Ground nutmeg
1 quart Milk

Cooking time 2 ½ hours

1.    Heat oil and butter over medium-high heat in a heavy bottomed pan or casserole. Add the pancetta, then the meats and season. Meat will sear only for a few seconds, then it will release it’s own water, keep at high heat until the water evaporates and only the oil remains…the meat will start to brown then, turn down the heat at this point

2.    Meanwhile pulse the onions, carrots and celery on the food processor for a few moments (do not make a puree), it should be in small pieces. After the meat has started to turn color add the pulsed vegetable mixture and the rosemary and caramelize with the meat. Add the nutmeg and tie the cloves and cinnamon stick in cheesecloth and add to the pot. Caramelizing the vegetables and the meat will take about 20 minutes. Add the soaked and diced Porcini mushrooms and their liquid (porcini soaking liquid must be decanted and strained before adding it to the sauce).

3.    Deglaze the meat with the white wine and reduce until almost dry. Add the pureed tomatoes. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and cook very slowly for 1 hour adding broth if necessary. Add the milk in stages at this point, every 10 minutes or so, again covered and simmering another hour. Check meat for tenderness, when done remove lid and reduce until thickened. Fish out the clove and cinnamon sachet and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Cooking the pasta:
1 pound Maccheroncini, rigatoni, penne or any other pasta that you like

Bring 4 quarts of water with 2 tablespoons salt to a boil.

1.    Divide the Bolognese ragu in half and place one half in a container and sotre in the refrigerator or freezer.

2.    Drop the pasta in the boiling water and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until tender and “al dente”, about 8-10 minutes. Drain the pasta well and add to the pan with the Bolognese ragu. Cook the pasta over medium heat and toss until well coated, about one minute.

3.    Spoon pasta and sauce into warm serving bowls and top with the freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

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