Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fettuccini with Smoky Sausage Ragu Bolognese

I am a sucker for an old-school Bolognese sauce, so for the sake of variety, I took the classic Bolognese sauce and amplified it's flavor by adding hot Italian sausage. The pairing of sausage and pancetta works beautifully together, and gives a smoky undertone by using the pancetta as the cooking fat and threading that smokiness throughout the sauce. 

The classic soffrito triumverates: (carrots, celery, onion) melt into the tomato paste and olive oil, and brings a little sweetness to the table. A little white wine adds the right amount of acidity and keeps the other flavors nimble and pronounced, while the addition of milk further enriches the sauce.  

All ingredients are thoughtfully balanced, but the standout is the spicy, sausage.  The hot Italian sausage and smokiness is what elevates this classic dish from typical to exceptional. The finished dish is hearty, vibrant and fragrant, making your house smell like an Italian Nonna's in 20 minutes!  I promise you!  But don't serve it up just yet! Letting this sauce simmer for at least an hour and a half renders the meat so tender, it nearly melts in your mouth!

Normally, I make this Bolognese sauce with two pounds of hot Italian sausage, but I would recommend making a bigger batch as the sauce will reappear in different guises throughout the week. Stir into polenta, into risotto, use in a lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, as a bruschetta topping, or on a pizza... or just eat it directly out of the pot! 


2 tablespoons of olive oil
Try Smoky Bolognese topping for pizza!
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of carrot, fine chopped
1 cup of onion,fine chopped
1 rib of celery, fine chopped
3 garlic cloves, pushed through garlic press
2 pounds of ground hot Italian sausage
1 smoked pork shank
5 ounces of pancetta, finely diced (or, bacon)
1/3 cup of tomato paste
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of dry white wine
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for grating
1 pound of fettuccini pasta


1.) In a Dutch oven or, heavy bottom large sauce pan, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the pancetta and allow to get a bit crispy.

2.) Add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic and sweat down for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are translucent, but not browned.

3.) Add the ground sausage and stir to incorporate with the vegetables and pancetta. Turn the heat up to high and continue to stir so the sausage gets nicely browned.

4.) Add the tomato paste, milk, wine and stir to incorporate.

5.) Add the smoked pork shank and allow to simmer (covered) for a 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Season the ragu with salt and pepper.

6.) Remove the pork shank from the sauce. Allow to cool a bit. By hand, remove any remnants of pork from the bone to add to the sauce enhance the ragu’s smokiness. Discard the bone.

Before serving, cook one pound of fettuccini pasta  el dente.  Do not over cook pasta; the sauce is very hearty, and the pasta needs to have a nice “tooth” to it.  Toss desired amount of the ragu with the pasta and top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Buon Appetito!


  1. Bolognese is my favorite...great to hear someone else would just eat it by itself ! I make a " thing" that I call torsagna...ha ha ...I layer flour tortillas with bolognese and a little mozzerella or other white cheese hangingout in the fridge. Start with the sauce in the bottom and layer like you would a lasagna. I usually put it in a deep round baking dish or cast iron skillet. It poufs up a little and makes a good cut-through when serving. SO...I am making YOUR homemade sauce for this " thing" from now will give it a very groovy kick !

    I SO like the photo of the fettucine noodles with this sauce...I want smell a vision :0) XXOO Ragu me up Scotty !

    1. Wow. Torsagna!! Sounds very creative, Miss Lori! :-) I may try that when we deviate from the Italian and go for a little Mexi... Thanks for stopping by! Let me know when you make the sauce! Oh, and I'm working on the smellavision.. I'm sure some brilliant Computer engineer will write a code for it one of these days. :-)

      Stop by, again, soon!
      -Cath xo

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  3. Thanks for the recipe. I am going to make this on the weekend, I can't wait.