- Mise en place is your friend! Prep the following ingredients: 1) Dice the smoked pancetta into small cubes (around ½ cm). 2) Finely chop the sweet onion, carrots and celery stalks. 3) Thinly slice the garlic cloves. 4) Measure out the white wine. 5) Carefully pour the tinned tomatoes into a large bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hands. 6) Measure out the chicken stock. 7) Measure out the milk.
- Cut the brisket joint into 8 equal-ish pieces. Pat dry and season with 2 tsp sea salt and ½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper. Use the brisket pieces to mop up the salt and pepper that falls onto the chopping board. It may look like a lot of salt, but trust me on it!
- Heat 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, sear the brisket pieces, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides; this process should take around 5 minutes per batch. Once browned, transfer the brisket pieces to a plate or shallow bowl.
- Wipe down the pot with some kitchen towel; you want to remove the oil and any loose burnt bits but leave the fond— the caramelized drippings of the brisket that are stuck to the bottom of the pot—behind (see photo below).
- Turn the heat down to medium, add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered out and the pancetta is browned and beginning to crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the onion, carrots and celery stalks and cook, stirring occasionally, until nice and soft, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the fresh rosemary sprigs and cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomato purée and sundried tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until they begin to darken, 4 mins.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the white wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by around ¾, around 15 minutes.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, chicken stock and milk, return the meat (and its juices) to the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fall-apart tender, 4 ½ to 5 ½ hours.
- Alternatively, you can bake the ragù: add the tinned tomatoes, chicken stock and milk, return the meat (and its juices) to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and bake at 150°C/fan 130°C until the meat is nice and tender, 5 to 6 hours. Don’t forget to preheat your oven beforehand!
- Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the beef to a large bowl, loosely cover with aluminium foil and allow to rest for 10 mins, then coarsely shred using 2 forks.
- Return the shredded beef to the sauce. If needed, simmer the ragù uncovered over medium-low heat to thicken, anywhere from 10 to 30 mins. Taste and season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Serve Bolognese-style with tagliatelle or pappardelle or use it as a base for a delicious lasagna.
STORAGE: the ragù can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, loosen with a little stock or water and heat over the stove or in the microwave until piping hot. It also freezes exceptionally well; cool, transfer to freezer-safe, airtight containers or freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to use, thaw in the fridge overnight and heat over the stove or in the microwave until piping hot.
Interested in knowing how this recipe came into being? Click here for my blog post detailing the recipe development process. It covers everything from my ingredient choices, to cooking tips, to how my recipe compares to the official recipe for ragù Bolognese (because yes, there is an official recipe that is registered with Bologna’s Chamber of Commerce!).