Tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese
Posted August 16, 2010on:
Ragù, or more commonly known as Bolognese sauce, is one of the traditional meat sauces for pasta that originated from Bologna. The name comes from the French word ragoût (stew), which in turn is derived from ragoûter, which means to stimulate the appetite.
The method of cooking ragù is to create a soffritto first, next adding ground beef and then followed by a triple reduction of milk, wine and tomatoes. This is finally simmered at a very low temperature over a long period, like between 3 to 6 hours.
The recipe I’m following by Marcella Hazan and here is the ingredients list:
Makes 4 to 6 servings
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– 4 tbsp butter (1 used for tossing pasta)
– 1/2 cup chopped onion
– 2/3 cup chopped celery
– 2/3 cup chopped carrot
– 3/4 pound ground beef chuck
– Fresh ground black pepper
– 1 cup whole milk
– Whole nutmeg
– 1 cup dry white wine
– 1.5 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, torn into pieces, with juice
– 1-¼ to 1-½ pounds pasta
– Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table
First we start by making the soffritto where we first sauté the onions with the oil and butter over medium heat, until they become translucent. Then you add the chopped celery and carrot and mix well for about 2 mins.
The recommended cut of beef to be used in the ragù is the neck portion of the chuck, as a more marbled cut is supposed to make the sauce sweeter.
Although traditionally the Bolognese use beef but in recent times, pork is also added to the beef to make the ragù tastier. Some even use wild boar to get a more intense and gamey taste for the sauce.
I decided to follow this and used 1 part pork to 2 parts beef. Like the beef, it is recommended to use pork from the neck or Boston butt cut.
So I added the beef with a large pinch of salt and some grindings of pepper, and stirred it until the beef was not red anymore.
Now add in the milk and simmer gently until there’s no milk left, all the time stirring. Grate in 1/8 tsp of nutmeg at the end.
Next is the wine which is also simmered until all gone.
And finally the tomatoes are added and I stirred thoroughly to make sure everything is mixed evenly. Once the tomatoes start to bubble, I turned down the heat to the lowest possible so that there was just an intermittent bubble popping now and then. I had some trouble with this because my fire kept going out due to the wind.
I left it like this for about 4 hours, checking in and stirring occasionally. If it got too dry, I would add 1/2 cup of water to keep it moist. And I corrected for salt as necessary.
Eventually it became like this so now was the time to prepare the pasta!
Ragù is of course traditionally served with home-made Bolognese tagliatelle, which are long and flat strips of dough made from flour and egg.
While I would have loved to try making it myself, I didn’t have a pasta machine so I just went and bought the ready-made ones curled up as nests.
Once the pasta was cooked, I tossed it with the remaining 1 tbsp of butter, scooped a large dollop of ragù on top and grated some cheese over it all.
And that’s the traditional tagliatelle al ragù alla Bolognese! I have to admit that calling it a ‘sauce’ is a misnomer because ragù is actually not a wet sauce like the typical pasta sauces but more like meat with some sauce. And also I think I overdid the final reduction so it’s a bit drier than it should be.
But who cares, the ragù still tasted damn delicious! And that’s all that matters 😀