Well, ragù alla bolognese is generally one of those. Everyone has a different way of making it. But there are some basic rules to follow, the main one being that it must be cooked for at least 5 hours!
That's right, this is not going to be something you just decide to have for dinner. And you know what? The anticipation makes it even more worth the wait.
Outside of Italy, Bolognese can be spooned over spaghetti (Spag-bo anyone? tragic butchering of the language - and apparently the dish as well) or layered with Bechamel and pasta to make Lasagne alla Bolognese (from the Bologna region). The current recipe is considered best served over fresh tagliatelle.
The two main ingredients are meat and tomato, and then everything else can vary; and since there is no authoritative recipe for Ragù alla Bolognese, it's up to you to explore the possibilities!
An Italian friend of mine gave me this recipe, and I am publishing it here with his consent.
Ragù alla Bolognese
1 large onion
500g minced meat (beef, veal, pork, or a mix of these)
1 can whole tomatoes
300 g carrots (approximately 5)
red wine (optional)
bay leaf (optional)
cut the onion and carrots in a small dice. heat the olive oil until just below smoking point. on high heat, add onion and cook 5 minutes, until translucent. Add carrots. After about 5 minutes, add the minced meat. Break into small pieces and let brown, about 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, and twice the volume of the can in water (fill the can twice with water). Stir together, and lower the heat to a low setting. Let simmer, stirring every once in a while. After a minimum of 4 hours, but can take up to 6, the water should have mostly evaporated, leaving you with a more consistent sauce.
* the bay leaf should be added before the onions
* in case you choose to add celery, dice and add at the same time as the carrots.
* the wine should be added at the same time as the tomatoes
Serve over fresh tagliatelle or reserve for Lasagne alla Bolognese