Among the many pillars of Italian cuisine “Ragù” (aka bolognese sauce) stands tall and proud as one of the most renowned worldwide. As usual, throughout the country there are many variations: Naples for instance has ragù sauce made with chunks of meat. But make no mistake, the original recipe comes from the beautiful town of Bologna in the middle of the Emilia Romagna region, celebrated for its incredible gastronomical heritage. And even in Bologna you can find different approaches to ragù, changing from family to family as well as from chef to chef. With or without tomato sauce, with or without milk, with the addition of certain spices…there’s debate even in regards to which cut of meat should be used.
Traditionally the sauce is served over fresh egg pasta (tagliatelle please, if you’re in Bologna) or layered in a lasagna. Tuscany uses pappardelle pasta while some northern regions prefer it with gnocchi or polenta. Serving it over spaghetti is something that began in foreign countries and today “spaghetti bolognese” is typically on the menu of touristic restaurants which have adapted to tourists’ demands. But no matter over what you intend to serve this heavenly sauce, it will satisfy your palate as much as your cooking skills.
Recipe for 4:
1,½ lb fresh egg tagliatelle (if you are using dried pasta 1 lb is plenty)
1 stalk celery
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork (a fatty cut, ideally belly)
1 lb tomato salsa
½ a glass white wine
salt and pepper to taste
¼ lb Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
Finely chop the onion, celery, and carrot. In a large pot heat a tablespoon of EVOO and add the vegetables. Cook for a few minutes on a high flame, then lower the flame and add the meats.
Cook the meats and veggies for another half hour before adding the wine. Once the wine is absorbed add the tomato salsa. Add a teaspoon of salt and half of pepper. Once the sauce is ready you can always taste and adjust. The ragù should cook at low flame for at least two hours, but even longer works great, some keep it going for up to six!
Bring a pot of water to boil on the side, salt it and cook the tagliatelle for suggested time on packaging (always taste 1min before just to be sure it stays “al dente”). Once ready drain, keep just a bit of the cooking water and add to the sauce. Mix well and serve with parmigiano reggiano cheese. This dish pairs beautifully with red wine.