The Ragù alla Bolognese is one of the most important recipes of my own city, perhaps the most famous Italian dish in the world. Unfortunately, it is also the most mangling Italian recipe! For the Bologna’s people, ragù is a very serious matter, more than can be expected! The preparation of this great recipe is very easy but needs time, right ingredients and a very good thick-bottomed heavy pot. So, take your time and be prepared to taste something different than the ordinary international “Bolognese sauce”.
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A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Probably, the word “ragù” descend from the French term ragout, the technique of slow-cooking small pieces of meat or fish. The Emilian cookbooks mention the Ragù al Bolognese since the XVII Century, but probably the recipe is more ancient. Initially, ragù hasn’t paired with pasta but served with bread slices or polenta.
As I previously said, in Bologna the ragù is a severe matter, and it is responsible for several quarrels! In the 1982, the “Accademia della Cucina di Bologna”, the association that preserves the local culture and traditions, has published an official version of the recipe. But, even this attempt hasn’t been ended the debate: in Bologna, every family is ready to swear that jealously keep the secret of the unique and original Ragù alla Bolognese!
WITCH KIND OF MEAT?
Choose the right kind of meat it is essential to prepare a great Ragù alla Bolognese. First of all, we need ground beef with at least 15% fat. Along with the beef, we need the right amount of quality of ground pork belly, fresh or cured, or a mixture of both.
BUTTER OR OLIVE OIL?
Starting to prepare an authentic ragù alla Bolognese, pick up the bottle of olive oil, put it aside into a cabinet, lock the door and forget it! In fact, the ragù does not needs any oil, but simply butter and meat fat.
TOMATO SAUCE OR TOMATO PASTE?
Tomato paste is my Personal choiche, because the taste is more intense and it is easier obtain the authentic flavor, but the official recipe let the choice free
CHOOSING THE RIGHT POT
The traditional pot is made of terracotta. Alternatively, a copper saucepan or an enamel dutch oven are the best choices.
HOW TO SERVE Ragù alla Bolognese
If you desire to taste an authentic ragù alla Bolognese like in Bologna we do, forget spaghetti and tortellini! The most traditional pasta choices are tagliatelle and lasagna. Tagliatelle has prepared with a simple dough made with flour and eggs, thick less than ad a dime and 1/3 inch large. Lasagna dough is often green because minced spinach boiled inside the dough and made with seven layers of thin dough, alternating with béchamel sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Ragù. For everyday meals dried short pasta is acceptable: rigatoni or gobbi are the best choices. In this case is traditional, but not mandatory, add an half tbsp of heavy cream at the Ragù before tossing the pasta.
On the hills around Bologna is traditional to serve ragù alla Bolognese over speared yellow polenta, garnished with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Currently, is not common serve ragù over bread slices, but it is tough do not poach some bread into the pot preparing this tasty sauce!
- • 11 oz (300 g) ground beef, 85% lean
- • 5.5 oz (150 g) ground pork belly
- • ⅓ cup (50 g) yellow onion
- • ⅓ cup (50 g) carrot
- • ⅓ cup (50 g) celery
- • 2 tbsp (30 g) double concentrated tomato paste
- • ½ glass red wine
- • 3.5 tbsp (50 g) unsalted butter
- • ½ glass whole milk
- • to taste black pepper
- • to taste table salt
- PORK BELLY & BEEF
First, place a tick-bottomed heavy pot over medium heat. When the bottom is hot, pour the ground pork belly and stir-fry until all the liquid inside the meat is evaporated. Now, pour the grounded beef and cook until golden brown. Finally, pour the meat into a bowl and put aside, covered.
- PREPARING “SOFFRITTO”
In the same pot add the butter and let it melt over low heat. After that, add onions, carrots, and celery, all finely minced. Sautè over medium heat, stirring occasionally until all the vegetables are very tender and translucent. Finally, add the tomato paste and stir-fry 5 minutes more.
- SLOW COOKING RAGÙ ALLA BOLOGNESE
When the vegetables are well cooked, add the meat previously seared. Raise the flame on high and pour the wine stirring frequently for a couple of mins. Finally, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot with a lid. Cook very slow for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The ragù alla Bolognese have to simmer very gently all the cooking time. Add beef stock only if necessary.
After at least 3 hours, when the ragù alla Bolognese is well done, pour the whole milk warmed and stir well. Cook 40 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper the ragù alla Bolognese just a few minutes before ready.