Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ragù Bolognese: I Did It My Way!

Meat sauce Bolognese, in Italy known as "ragù bolognese" is one of those meals that is popular all over the world but it is rarely prepared the traditional way. One of the biggest "mistreatments" of the name is in super-popular meal "Spaghetti bolognese"! In Italy ragù bolognese is paired with tagliatelle not with spaghetti because spaghetti are not too common in cuisine of the region Emilia-Romagna.

The sauce is known for centuries but in 1982 the "official recipe" was protected at Italian Chamber of Commerce in order to preserve the traditional recipe and to keep the continuity of traditional gastronomy of Bologna.

Traditional recipe asks for minced beef from polpa di manzo (quite fatty part of beef), pork pancetta, red wine, beef stock, concentrated tomato sauce, onion, carrot and celery.

But you know how things work with food, we rarely follow the traditional recipe, we all like to add something new, something according to our taste. I heard tons of different recipes for bolognese sauce: with butter, with milk, some like to mix beef and pork, some like to add turkey... some use white wine, some use red wine... And that is OK. Food is too important part of our life to make any compromise, even with the tradition.

But, I do think it is important to know the "original one" because only that way we can be sure that we have improved the recipe and that we didn't deprive ourself by changing the original. So I promised to myself one of these day I'll try to prepare ragù bolognese following the traditional recipe.

Till than, this is how I prepare it. Well, not always, I'm one of those who improvise and never succeed to do same thing twice even when I really want to. One more very important fact - I'm no any kind of expert and I have no clue of cooking chemistry, I do not really know why I do things I do when cooking, so do not feel obligate to follow my lead. All I can say that at the end this taste heavenly!

Ragù Bolognese - My Way
500g minced beef
2 onions
4 carotts
500 g tomato - pelati
1 glass of white wine
salt, paper
I usually use pancetta too, but this time I simply forgot it.

Finely slice aromatics and fry them in olive oil on high heat until tender.

Add minced meat. Keep the heat hight all the time.

Fry the meat until you start to smell meat aroma. You will feel it, no worry.

Majority of recipe ask not to day meat, but I do exactly the opposite. I use this cooking tool (I do not know its name) to "squeegee" the meat's juices and to "break" the meat into the fine crumbs.

I fry meat until all fluids evaporate and meat crumbs get goden brown crust.

Add little amount of good quality white wine. Do not use some cheap wine because it has great influence on final taste. When wine evaporate, add again little amount of wine. Repeat several times.

Add tomatoes - pelati and mix well. Use that cooking tool that I do not know its name to break the tomatoes.

Turn the heat on low and cook for at least one more hour. Stir occasionally. Add salt, paper. I like to add 1 ts of sugar but that depends on carrot. If carrots are sweet enough, no sugar is needed.

Sometimes I like to add just a bit of Aceto Balsamico at the very end and once te meal is over I like to move it from the heat, rest it for few minutes to chill and them sprinkle with a bit of olive oil.
If you do not have the time, you can cook it just until you feel the tomatoes are cooked and meat is tender but longer you the meat will be tenderer and it will taste better!

You can serve it with pasta, palenta, lasagne or lentils tarts as I did!