Bolognese Ragu: The Most Appreciated Italian Sauce Worldwide
The culture of good food is one of the added value of tourism in Emilia Romagna, an Italian region that attracts thousand of visitors with its delicious specialties. Tortellini, Parmesan cheese, mortadella: the area offers a typical product to suit every taste. The gastronomic culture of the city of Bologna is proud of its Bolognese ragu which is certainly one of the typical seasonings of Italian cuisine which are most popular abroad.
Ragu is a word that derives from the French verb ragoûter, that means to awaken the appetite. This is a tasty, thick and dense meat and tomato sauce, universal symbol of the Italian vocation for food. While in Italy the traditional Bolognese sauce is classically associated with egg tagliatelle, in other countries it is usually used for spaghetti, probably the most popular type of pasta known in the world. Bolognese Ragu is internationally associated with bechamel sauce to cook the lasagne.
The fame of the Bolognese Ragu, as well as universal, is secular. The gastronomic passion of Bologna dates back to the Middle Ages, when the Courts of the rich noble families hosted the most respected chefs of the time. The food culture of the capital of Emilia Romagna is closely linked to the oldest University still existing in Europe: the meeting of students and professors from different countries has enriched the excellent local food repertoire.
Historically, the Bolognese Ragu was eaten as a main course and was commonly included in the military menu: it was so dense that it could be considered a main dish, eaten with bread, using a fork. Thus, the use of the Ragu associated with pasta is a tradition that has emerged late on our tables.
Certainly, in the past, popular cooking did not establish fixed compositions in the preparation of various dishes: the main ingredients that characterized recipes, in fact, were associated with other elements that were different, from time to time, depending on availability. However, some recipes, handed down from generation to generation, have gradually been codified. Already in the 70s of last century, the classic recipes of various specialties were deposited at the Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture in Bologna, that is the only guardian of Bologna's food treasures.
In 1982 the procedure for the preparation of Bolognese Ragu was made official in order to preserve its original features. However, there are some variants of the authentic recipe, for example, some imply the addition of chicken and pork, the use of ham instead of bacon, and the use of milk and butter. The recorded recipe provides, first, minced beef, whose cut must be chosen carefully: it should be the diaphragm of cattle, a very red and juicy type of meat which is rich in fat to make the sauce greasy, together with bacon. The other ingredients are: onion, carrot, celery, bacon, tomato sauce, dry red wine and beef broth. One of the secrets of tagliatelle with meat sauce is just cooking pasta in broth, rather than in simple salt water.
Furthermore, pay close attention to the cooking of meat: cook the bacon for at least 20 minutes, until it releases its fat and it has browned, only then you can add the mince meat and cook over medium heat, stirring .
Another fundamental rule in the recipe of ragu is the cooking time which should not be less than 4 hours from the time you add tomatoes.
We recommend to accompany pasta with Bolognese Ragu with a good Italian red wine, which must be dry and dense, bearing in mind that the acidity of the tomatoes could be increased by a tannic wine. To match a wine from the same region is always a good choice.
Furthermore, since the Ragu is a very nutritious, high-calorie, proteinic sauce, it is good to associate it with a light menu of vegetables, in order to offer a complete meal that will delight diners without weighing them down.
Marzia Vaccaro – I Like Italy
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