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Pasta with Turkey Ragu alla Bolognese-Style

Serves 4 to 6

There seems to be as many different recipes for pasta with ragu alla Bolognese as there are Italian cooks. One of the differences is the type of meat used. This is my latest version, using ground turkey instead of the typical beef and pork, as in the similar and related recipes. I love the flavor of the turkey, and the resulting sauce is not quite as heavy and rich. The first time I made this recipe, I used homemade egg noodle dough, also in the similar and related recipes, and it was so good. I still do that now and then, but dried pasta, white, multigrain or whole wheat, works every bit as well.


Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Sauté the onions, carrots and celery until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta, turkey and garlic. Break the ground meat apart as it cooks. Cook just until it is no longer pink. Add the wine, tomatoes and water. Season with the thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Let come to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook very gently for about 2 hours, partially covered. Check occasionally and add some water if it dries out or gets too thick. Add the milk and nutmeg. Simmer, but do not boil, for another 10 minutes or until the milk is combined with the sauce. Stir in the fresh basil. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package or recipe directions for al dente. Drain; place in a serving bowl. Spoon enough sauce over the pasta to cover well and to combine. (You probably will not need all of the sauce for one pound of pasta. The remainder can be frozen for future use.) Serve immediately, passing the cheese separately.

Notes: If preferred, a tubular pasta shape such as penne rigate can be used. If you cannot find pancetta, omit it. The packages of ground turkey in my grocery store weigh 1.3 pounds, but other stores may pack it in one pound amounts. Either is just fine. I prefer 93% lean for the flavor, but you can use a leaner mix if desired.