Last week, someone mentioned pasta and Bolognese Sauce. I hadn’t made it in such a long time, and I’ve been missing Italy and the delicious authentic meals I had there, with Scott. So, I decided to make this, recently. It came out so good, and I had to share it with you!
Bolognese is a meat-based sauce that originated from (you guessed it) Bologna, Italy. It’s a type of ragu, which means a meat-heavy sauce. (More meat than tomatoes/sauce.) The traditional Bolognese sauce has been around since the 18th century. So, it should come as no surprise that there are hundreds of variations that have evolved, especially in America.
If you’ve never had a real authentic Italian Bolognese, I’d recommend trying it first, at a few authentic Italian restaurants. If you’re not in Italy, find a restaurant that is as close to it as you can get. (i.e. A first generation Italian-American cook.) Keep in mind that there are variations even within the Italian cuisine. So, consider trying it a few places, and asking questions.
Scott and I had an authentic Ragu with short rib beef in Tuscany that was to die for. You can find my recreated recipe, here. Honestly, I prefer this over Bolognese. BUT, if a bolognese is done right, it can be a very close runner up.
So, what makes a sauce Bolognese?
First, the meat. It’s typically a ground or cubed medley of rich-flavored meats. My favorite blend is a ground mixture (Beef, pork, and veal. American supermarkets refer to this trio as “meatloaf mix”.) Another meat (such as pancetta, bacon, or sausage) is used to create a flavored base prior to browning the ground meat.
Next, is the cooking liquid, which is generally comprised of wine (red or white ~ preferably a dry version), tomatoes (fresh or canned; with or without tomato paste), and broth or stock (I prefer using beef flavored). Last but not least, a touch of milk or cream, helps emulsify the texture of the dish while adding a richness of flavor.
What makes Rachel Maria’s version of Bolognese so special?
I use only the essential ingredients and steps in making my Bolognese sauce. I like to save time, energy, and money without sacrificing an unforgettable taste. So, if an ingredient doesn’t make much of a difference, I’ll skip it. Take the carrots and celery. Scott and I agree that neither are necessary as they lose their taste and take away from the meat. (Although, I certainly won’t be offended if you tweak my recipe and add whatever you want!) The other thing is that I’ve tried so many variations (yes, even in Italy) that I knew the flavor I was going for. The only variations I would make are using Italian sausage or Pancetta. Other than that, this is the recipe ‘ll always use.
Give it a try. And, let me know what you think. : )