A traditional bolognese employs only a little tomato paste and no herbs or garlic as is typical in many English-speaking countries. As there are many versions of bolognese sauce I went to the accademia italiana della cucina, the Italian Academy of cooking, to check out their official recipe.
It confirmed what I knew but they added a little milk during the cooking process and used pancetta, whereas I use minced pork shoulder in my recipe. You can add some duck liver or minced veal or porcini mushrooms if you wish to have a more complex sauce.
2 tbsp unsalted butter
80ml olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
200g beef skirt, coarsely minced
200g pork shoulder, minced
125ml red wine
80g tomato paste
250ml full-cream milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the butter with the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook until the onion has softened but not coloured. Add the beef and pork mince and stir until it has coloured. Add the wine and tomato paste and cook gently, adding milk from time to time and seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2–3 hours, adding a bit of water to keep things moist, if needed. Any longer and the meat loses its fragrance, in my opinion.
The above quantity is enough to serve four people with pasta – in Italy they prefer to serve bolognese with fettuccine or similar homemade pasta.
From Nuovo Mondo by Stefano de Pieri and Jim McDougall.