Vincenza’s Ragù alla Bolognese | Posted: 21 March 2013
Authentic cooking is a key ingredient of a walking holiday in the Apennine Mountains of Italy
Making pasta by hand
On our walking holiday in the Apennines, you'll find Bolognese sauce served with tagliatelle or pappardelle

The dish most of us call spaghetti bolognaise isn’t a patch on this authentic recipe for real Bolognese sauce.

The recipe was passed down to Carla Lenzi, our Italian ‘fixer’ who lives in the Apennines, by her grandmother, Vincenza.


1 knob unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
400g minced beef
1 cup whole milk (room temperature)
1 cup organic beef broth (if needed)
500g tomato purée or chopped tomatoes
Pinch of salt
Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Related Holidays

The Secret Apennines

South-west of Bologna, the city which lends its name to Bolognese sauce, you can follow inviting paths through thick, majestic woodland to high peaks and panoramic ridges. One of the holiday’s great features is the selection of authentic inns where you will be treated to delicious pasta and other dishes flavoured with mushrooms, truffles and chestnuts.

More about our walking holiday in the Apennines >


1) Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, celery and carrot. Cook for 3mins, stirring occasionally.
2) Add the ground beef and butter, stirring continuously until the meat begins to change colour.
3) Add the milk in 2/3 doses and let it simmer while stirring, until it has completely bubbled away (10-15mins).
4) Season with salt and add the tomatoes.
5) After the sauce begins to boil, reduce heat to the laziest of simmers and cook for 3hrs. If the sauce becomes too dry before its allotted time, add some beef broth or water.
6) Combine with the pasta, sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.

Get it right!

As Carla explains: “Outside Italy, the ragù alla bolognese is served with spaghetti as ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’, but our tradition is to combine the real Bolognese sauce with hand-made tagliatelle or pappardelle … never, ever spaghetti!”

Noreen Mullins
The Ragu'alla Bolognese sounds delicious but can't believe the sauce has to be simmered for 3 hours!

Thanks for your query, Noreen. Carla, who passed on this recipe from her grandmother, assures me that some Bolognese chefs will leave ragu sauce simmering for up to 4 hours. And in fact there are many recipes in Italy that require a very long time simmering. For example, the Baccalà (cod fish) alla Vicentina needs 4/5 hours simmering.
I suppose the proof is in the eating... Have you tried it, yet? Enjoy...
22/01/2017 17:59:12

Juliet Pike
If you haven't tried this recipe for the best ever Ragù alla Bolognese then you must - it is best version I have come across. Try to use locally sourced beef mince and you will have the best 'Spag Bol' ever!
04/04/2015 18:18:10

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