Bolognese from Bologna
Fresh out of home, still in my teenage years, and having to fend for myself.
I still remember those days when, as a young man fresh out of high school I moved away from my family for study. And, like many before me and many after me, the kitchen became I place that I had to master, not somewhere I could just turn up in and expect food to be already prepared.
What do you do when suddenly you have to cook for yourself – and sometimes cook for others? Well, you fall back on the standard student meal… spaghetti bolognese.
Back then I used sauce from jars. It was much easier to have a sauce already made for me by somebody else (especially when that ‘somebody else’ was often an Academy Award-winning actor).
Deep down, though, I knew it wasn’t the right thing and ever since those student years I’ve felt the need to find the perfect bolognese sauce.
Here in the Italian city of Bologna, the home of the sauce, that time has come.
The recipe I’m about to give you comes from Alessandra Spisni, a famous cook in Bologna who now runs the cooking school Vecchia Scuola.
It came to Alessandra from her mother and it was passed down to her from her mother. For generations the secret to a perfect bolognese sauce has been shared within the family.
Now it’s time to share it with you.
The bolognese sauce recipe
Below is the recipe for the perfect bolognese sauce. It’s not something that is normally written down – it is passed on by mouth and demonstration.
For that reason there are no exact measurements… you’ll need to estimate what will work for you.
– Start with carrots, celery and onion and grate them all together into small pieces
– Cook the vegetables in a pot over a medium heat with a bit of pork fat (lard) until they are slightly softened
– Take the vegetables off the heat and add them to minced beef in a bowl.
– Use a grinder (or something similar) to grind the mixed meat and vegetables together. Then add some salt.
– Cook the mixed vegetables and meat in a pot on a low heat. When it starts to smell nice then add some white wine.
– When you can’t smell the alcohol anymore, it’s time to add the tomato. For this recipe, use a puree called ‘passata di pomodoro’, or the closest you can find to that.
– Mix all of that together then add a little bit of water.
– Leave everything on the pot on a low heat for at least four hours, stirring occasionally.
– Serve hot over fresh pasta and be amazed at how different this tastes to any bolognese sauce you’ve had before!
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN BOLOGNA
Bologna is a great place to base yourself to explore the region. Here are my tips for some of the best accommodation.
For a good budget option, I would suggest the Dopa Hostel near the city centre.
For an affordable hotel, Albergo Panorama has good rooms right in the town centre.
If you’re looking for an interesting design hotel, I would suggest Art Hotel Commercianti.
And to splurge, the Savoia Hotel Regency is probably the best in Bologna.
Time Travel Turtle was a guest of Vecchia Scuola and the Emilia Romagna tourism board but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT EMILIA-ROMAGNA?
To help you plan your trip to Emilia-Romagna:
- It may not be Italy’s most famous city but here’s why you should visit Bologna
- The mosaics in Ravenna are some of the most stunning you’ll ever see
- Find out why Modena Cathedral is a World Heritage Site
- The best things to see in the historic city of Ferrara
- Rimini is known for its beaches, but don’t miss this colourful neighbourhood
- Learn some Italian cooking at the home of the country’s first cookbook’s author
- You haven’t truly tasted balsamic vinegar until you’ve tried it in Modena
- With famous local ham and cheese, Parma has to be one of Italy’s best food cities
- Learn more about the Ferrari car company at these excellent museums
- The experience of a lifetime – driving a Lamborghini on Imola racetrack!
Let someone else do the work for you:
You may also want to consider taking a tour in Italy, rather than organising everything on your own. It’s also a nice way to have company if you are travelling solo.
I am a ‘Wanderer’ with G Adventures and they have great tours of Italy.
You could consider:
When I travel internationally, I always get insurance. It’s not worth the risk, in case there’s a medical emergency or another serious incident. I recommend you should use World Nomads for your trip.