Bolognese sauce known in Italian as Ragù Alla Bolognese or ragù is a meat-based sauce which has its origin in Bologna, Italy. It is commonly used as a sauce with the tagliatelle, traditional pasta from Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions of Italy and to prepare ‘Lasagne alla bolognese’.
Bolognaise sauce as it is known outside of Italy is one of the world’s most popular pasta sauces. Unfortunately, the international version of Bolognese is very different from the traditional sauce eaten by the people born and raised in Emilia-Romagna, where it has been enjoyed on Sundays and at festivals for centuries.
There are many variations of the ragù sauce these days, even among native Italian chefs and in the regional cooking of Italy, not to mention the increasing number of chefs outside Italy, who have been creating their own version of the ragù.
A traditional ragù begins with the cooking of soffritto ( It is a saute, a flavour base for many Italian dishes) and battuto ( refers to the raw base of finely chopped vegetables for the soffritto)
In the preparation of the ragù, the classic soffritto is made of onion, celery and carrot. These are cooked over a gentle heat in a little olive oil or butter, with frequent stirring, until they become soft and are almost melting. The onion turns transparent, the celery fragrant and the carrot seeps its colour to the mixture creating a base flavour for the ragù.
In the city of Bologna, rich and meaty ragùs rule supremely. The sauce, made with a combination of pork and beef, is simmered very slowly for hours until everything melts together. Seasonings generally are very minimal in Bolognese, as typically only salt and pepper are used. The ragù is then used to dress fresh ribbons of tagliatelle pasta for a filling and hearty dish that has come to represent Italian cuisine all over the world. It’s the forefather of spaghetti Bolognese – an inauthentic dish enjoyed in places like the UK and America – but you’ll never see this pasta sauce served with spaghetti anywhere in Emilia-Romagna.
Though a few things have changed in the modern recipe, with the addition of white wine, milk and a small amount of tomato puree or concentrate, the most important aspect of the Bolognese ragù is its emphasis on the different meats as the principal ingredient while tomatoes, in one form or another, are only an auxiliary ingredient.
Ragù Alla Bolognese can be served with short pasta, like maccheroni, rigatoni or gobbi. But, the best and most traditional ways to taste this great sauce is with homemade tagliatelle, or in lasagne alla Bolognese.
We are sure you will be delighted to try the sauce as it is one of the Emilia-Romagna’s specialities.
Sources: grapesandgrains, greatitalianchefs