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Old 07-13-2003, 12:27 PM   #1
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Ragu' Alla Bolognese - Authentic Bolognese Sauce

My first trip to Italy was in 1963, when I went on holiday to Rome and Venice with my parents. I had just started learning Italian, but, nevertheless was able to interpret successfully for my parents - the start of a lifetime's career. My 'side' career, though, has always been cookery, and both my father and mother were excellent cooks, and I grew up with a keen interest in the preparation of food. In 1965, I went to Italy for the first time on my own, to the University of Perugia summer school, staying with a family, and it was there that I started to learn Italian cookery. I remember going shopping for fresh ingredients each morning with the Signora. There, I learned how to select lush, ripe fresh plum tomatoes ready for cooking that day, and the Signora taught me how to make 'Ragu' di carne', or, meat sauce for pasta. She used to add milk at the early stage of cooking, and the result was always excellent. I have used these recipes ever since.

I learned that tomato sauce is served with spaghetti, but meat sauces are always served with tagliatelle, pappardelle, or other ribbon pasta. I learned, too, that 'ragu di carne' is best served - this was the advice of one of Italy's great chefs of the early 1900's -Luigi Carnacina - with the tagliatelle pre-tossed, when cooked al dente, in butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

There seem to be many variations of bolognese sauce, and for years I have wondered whether my recipe - the Signora's - was authentic. There are versions using a mixture of minced beef, pork and veal; versions with porcini mushrooms; with chicken livers; I have come across versions with bell peppers, and, once, with sausage!

The earliest reference I have found to 'Ragu' alla bolognese is a 15th century recipe, which describes lining a casserole dish with prosciutto and strips of pork fat, laying chopped onion, (no garlic - Italian patricians for centuries abhorred garlic smells on the breath, which was looked down on at Court) carrot, celery and fresh wild herbs, which would be parsley, sage, rosemary and origano, and laying over that best quality finely chopped beef. The whole would then be covered in dry red wine and beef stock, and cooked over a slow fire for at least four hours, or until the meat was dark brown with a 'burnt' appearance. A little cream should be added at the end of cooking, to ennoble the dish.

Tomatoes didn't come into the equation until late on in the 15th century, reaching italy through Spain, where potatoes, maize, peppers of all kinds, tomatoes and American beans were introduced by the triumphant Conquistadores.The whole of Southern Italy was under Spanish Bourbon rule at the time, and it is said that these new foodswere first introduced into Palermo, Sicily, and thence found their way up the Italian peninsula and becoming part of the main staples of Italian food, and tomatoes soon found their way into some - though not all - meat sauces, including Bolognese.

Through the annals of history there are references to Bolognese sauce being made with a mix of beef, pork and veal, with porcini mushrooms, and with chicken livers. I have tried these, and they are all good, but the only old recipe I have found which refers to the use of milk is the fifteenth century one. There are other Italian recipes from around Bologna and Florence for braising pieces of beef or pork or lamb in milk and lemon, and they are well worth trying as they are very good. The resultant sauce is known as 'gentleman's sauce' because of its refined flavour. My Signora was always adamant about the use of milk in Bolognese sauce, and I must say, without it, it is a different sauce.

It was interesting to find, therefore, that the Italian Academy of Cuisine has now copyrighted a recipe for Bolognese sauce through the Bologna Chamber of Commerce, that after 38 years of searching, here we have a recipe which includes milk!!! Porcini mushrooms may be added as an option, if you want a very rich sauce. Just one note: if you are going to pass this recipe on to anyone, please acknowledge the copyright!

Best quality minced beef: 300gr
very finely chopped bacon: 150 gr
finely chopped carrot: 50gr
finely chopped celery: 50gr
finely chopped onion: 50gr
double concentrate tomato paste: 30gr
white/red wine (dry): half a glass
whole fresh milk: 1 glass
salt, pepper.

Sweat the bacon in olive oil in a large terracotta pan. Add the vegetables and sweat gently. Add the meat and brown gently. Do not over'brown'. It should just be sizzling gently when you start adding the milk. Add the milk bit by bit until absorbed. add the wine and tomato paste diluted with fresh beef stock. Cook very gently for 3 - 4 hours, until the sauce is a rich dark colour.

The Signora's recipe uses a little nutmeg in this sauce, and the quantity of milk is slightly less. She recommended a swirl of cream at the end of the cooking, mixed into the sauce.

ciao a tutti

dianne

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Old 11-08-2010, 12:36 PM   #2
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I am bumping this very, very old thread because I just got back from northern Italy (Tuscany). While there, we all (my 8yo, dh and I) all had an absolute EPIPHANY of what rag alla Bolognese REALLY is. Going off of how the chef explained the process, I googled to find an authentic recipe to get me going in the right direction. Leave it to DC... it turns out THIS is the recipe I was looking for.

I am sick, just sick, of places in the US flying the "authentic Italian" flag, when the ingredients are shipped in from 1000 miles away and taste like chemicals and tin. I have yet to find any restaurant that even serves authentic Italian pizza (light, fresh, crunchy crust that is small enough that even my 8yo can finish one) let alone use fresh ingredients.

But here... this recipe above is the real deal. So I am bumping it.
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:41 PM   #3
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Dianne is the one who posted the best spaghetti carbonara recipe I've ever made too. Thanks for pulling this one up velochic. (are we going to get to see pix of the holiday?)
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Old 11-08-2010, 12:54 PM   #4
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Thanks for bumping this up.

I don't doubt this is a classic recipe for this sauce. I'm going to try it.

As the OP stated in her narrative, her research revealed many different recipes. I suspect Ragu alla Bolognese is one of those recipes that differs from kitchen to kitchen and has evolved over time into a number of different versions.

I suspect if you questioned Italian food historians, professional chefs and housewives from Bologna or experts on that region, you would get a different variation of the recipe from each one.
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Old 11-08-2010, 02:02 PM   #5
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Did you see how many views this sucker has had? Over 25,000! Holy moly.
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Old 11-08-2010, 02:30 PM   #6
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I'm with Andy and find many things DH's mom use to make are far different than others make yet all are special in there own way, To me the main thing with each is the best ingredients possible.
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Old 11-08-2010, 04:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by kadesma View Post
I'm with Andy and find many things DH's mom use to make are far different than others make yet all are special in there own way, To me the main thing with each is the best ingredients possible.
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Old 11-08-2010, 07:50 PM   #8
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And cooking for those you Love! And with Love.
so true. Love gets it
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Old 11-28-2010, 10:46 AM   #9
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This recipe tasted EXACTLY like the Bolognese we ate in... Bolognese this past month. I'm sure there are small variations within families, but for a truly regional and authentic recipe, this just hit the spot, in general.

Something that is of interest to me is that when we were there, the idea of serving this with a thin pasta, such as spaghetti, just didn't exist. It wasn't until I ate the real thing and made the real thing at home to realize that if you serve it with something thin, you have a pile of ragu and a pile of pasta and they don't combine to make a cohesive dish. This was served, usually, with papardelle or other wide pasta and NOW I understand why. What a revelation! I'm falling in love all over again with Italian cuisine because it makes SO much sense.
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Old 11-28-2010, 12:23 PM   #10
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Amen velochic!
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Ragu' Alla Bolognese - Authentic Bolognese Sauce My first trip to Italy was in 1963, when I went on holiday to Rome and Venice with my parents. I had just started learning Italian, but, nevertheless was able to interpret successfully for my parents - the start of a lifetime's career. My 'side' career, though, has always been cookery, and both my father and mother were excellent cooks, and I grew up with a keen interest in the preparation of food. In 1965, I went to Italy for the first time on my own, to the University of Perugia summer school, staying with a family, and it was there that I started to learn Italian cookery. I remember going shopping for fresh ingredients each morning with the Signora. There, I learned how to select lush, ripe fresh plum tomatoes ready for cooking that day, and the Signora taught me how to make 'Ragu' di carne', or, meat sauce for pasta. She used to add milk at the early stage of cooking, and the result was always excellent. I have used these recipes ever since. I learned that tomato sauce is served with spaghetti, but meat sauces are always served with tagliatelle, pappardelle, or other ribbon pasta. I learned, too, that 'ragu di carne' is best served - this was the advice of one of Italy's great chefs of the early 1900's -Luigi Carnacina - with the tagliatelle pre-tossed, when cooked al dente, in butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. There seem to be many variations of bolognese sauce, and for years I have wondered whether my recipe - the Signora's - was authentic. There are versions using a mixture of minced beef, pork and veal; versions with porcini mushrooms; with chicken livers; I have come across versions with bell peppers, and, once, with sausage! :shock: :lol: The earliest reference I have found to 'Ragu' alla bolognese is a 15th century recipe, which describes lining a casserole dish with prosciutto and strips of pork fat, laying chopped onion, (no garlic - Italian patricians for centuries abhorred garlic smells on the breath, which was looked down on at Court) carrot, celery and fresh wild herbs, which would be parsley, sage, rosemary and origano, and laying over that best quality finely chopped beef. The whole would then be covered in dry red wine and beef stock, and cooked over a slow fire for at least four hours, or until the meat was dark brown with a 'burnt' appearance. A little cream should be added at the end of cooking, to ennoble the dish. Tomatoes didn't come into the equation until late on in the 15th century, reaching italy through Spain, where potatoes, maize, peppers of all kinds, tomatoes and American beans were introduced by the triumphant Conquistadores.The whole of Southern Italy was under Spanish Bourbon rule at the time, and it is said that these new foodswere first introduced into Palermo, Sicily, and thence found their way up the Italian peninsula and becoming part of the main staples of Italian food, and tomatoes soon found their way into some - though not all - meat sauces, including Bolognese. Through the annals of history there are references to Bolognese sauce being made with a mix of beef, pork and veal, with porcini mushrooms, and with chicken livers. I have tried these, and they are all good, but the only old recipe I have found which refers to the use of milk is the fifteenth century one. There are other Italian recipes from around Bologna and Florence for braising pieces of beef or pork or lamb in milk and lemon, and they are well worth trying as they are very good. The resultant sauce is known as 'gentleman's sauce' because of its refined flavour. My Signora was always adamant about the use of milk in Bolognese sauce, and I must say, without it, it is a different sauce. It was interesting to find, therefore, that the Italian Academy of Cuisine has now copyrighted a recipe for Bolognese sauce through the Bologna Chamber of Commerce, that after 38 years of searching, here we have a recipe which includes milk!!! Porcini mushrooms may be added as an option, if you want a very rich sauce. Just one note: if you are going to pass this recipe on to anyone, please acknowledge the copyright! Best quality minced beef: 300gr very finely chopped bacon: 150 gr finely chopped carrot: 50gr finely chopped celery: 50gr finely chopped onion: 50gr double concentrate tomato paste: 30gr white/red wine (dry): half a glass whole fresh milk: 1 glass salt, pepper. Sweat the bacon in olive oil in a large terracotta pan. Add the vegetables and sweat gently. Add the meat and brown gently. Do not over'brown'. It should just be sizzling gently when you start adding the milk. Add the milk bit by bit until absorbed. add the wine and tomato paste diluted with fresh beef stock. Cook very gently for 3 - 4 hours, until the sauce is a rich dark colour. The Signora's recipe uses a little nutmeg in this sauce, and the quantity of milk is slightly less. She recommended a swirl of cream at the end of the cooking, mixed into the sauce. ciao a tutti dianne 3 stars 1 reviews
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