A warm bowl of pasta, mashed potatoes or polenta topped with a thick, hearty and comforting ragu is the quintessential winter dish. I have brought together all of the best ragu recipes, made all different ways, to keep you warm all winter long.
What makes a ragu?
Traditionally what makes a sauce a ragu is pieces of braised meat in a sauce. Chunks of beef, pork or lamb braising until tender and falling apart. But I have also found plenty of delicious vegetarian ragus made with plenty of chopped vegetables.
What's the difference between a ragu and a bolognese?
So they are super similar, and you could definitely say that a bolognese is a type of ragu. I would have to say the major difference when I am making ragu vs. bolognese is that ragu is made with chunks of meat, red wine and chunky cut vegetables. Whereas a bolognese for me is made with ground meat, white wine, finely (almost pureed) chopped vegetables and cream.
A traditional ragu sauce recipe also lies heavily on a tomato sauce base, while a bolognese is less tomato, more ground meat and cream.
Both are delicious and both can be made with a variety of meats and vegetables.
What is the best cut of meat for a ragu?
Beef is most commonly used in ragu, and the chuck roast would be best as it tends to fall apart and shred very easily after braising.
How to build the best flavor in a ragu
The real key to creating the best, thickest and richest ragu is layering of flavors. Browning your meats to get good color on it is a must for a great ragu sauce. Then sautéing a variety vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms and garlic in the fat rendered from the meat is a second layer of flavoring. Herbs go in as well, enhancing the flavor.
A good heap of tomato paste cooked with your vegetables and herbs helps to caramelize the tomato paste, cook out the raw tomato and build even more flavor for your sauce.
Deglazing the pan with wine and stock, and adding the beef back to the pot and braising until the meat falls apart gives you the perfect ragu sauce.
The best ragu recipes
Check out all the best and most interesting ragu recipes. From a classic Italian ragu recipe to a gorgeous white ragu, you can be making a different ragu all winter long.