Interesting facts about Bolognese sauce

Bolognese sauce known in Italian as ragù alla bolognese, is a meat-based sauce in Italian cuisine, typical of the city of Bologna.

Bolognese sauce is a slowly cooked meat-based sauce, and its preparation involves several techniques, including sweating, sautéing and braising. Ingredients include a characteristic soffritto of onion, celery and carrot, different types of minced or finely chopped beef, often alongside small amounts of fatty pork. White wine, milk, and a small amount of tomato paste or tomatoes are added, and the dish is then gently simmered at length to produce a thick sauce.

It is customarily used to dress tagliatelle al ragù and to prepare lasagne alla bolognese.

Tagliatelle al ragù is one of Bologna’s signature dishes. Bolognese meat sauce is never served with spaghetti in Bologna. Instead, when it isn’t served over fresh tagliatelle, you will most often find it topping a bed of some other other ribbon-like pasta, such as fettuccine or pappardelle.

The origins of the Bolognese sauce are related to those of the French ragoût, a stew of ingredients reduced to small pieces, which became popular in the 18th century. The term ragoût comes from the French ragoûter, meaning: “to revive the taste”.

The earliest documented recipe for a ragù served with pasta comes from late 18th century Imola, near Bologna, from Alberto Alvisi, cook of the local Cardinal Barnaba Chiaramonti, later Pope Pius VII.

The first mention of the term “alla Bolognese” appeared in Pellegrino Artusi’s cookbook, “La Scienza in Cucina e L’arte di Mangier Bene” (Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well). Published in 1891, it is recognised as the most famous Italian cookbook of modern times and features nearly 800 recipes.

The sauce in Artusi’s cookbook called for predominantly lean veal filet along with pancetta, butter, onion, and carrot. The meats and vegetables were to be finely minced, cooked with butter until the meats browned, then covered and cooked with broth. No tomato sauce was foreseen. Artusi commented that the taste could be made even more pleasant by adding small pieces of dried mushroom, a few slices of truffle, or chicken liver cooked with the meat and diced. As a final touch, he also suggested adding half a glass of cream to the sauce when it was completely done to make it taste even smoother. Artusi recommended serving this sauce with a medium size pasta made from durum wheat. The pasta was to be made fresh, cooked until it was firm, and then flavored with the sauce and Parmigiano cheese.

In 1982, the Italian Academy of Cuisine an organization dedicated to preserving the culinary heritage of Italy, recorded and deposited a recipe for “classic Bolognese ragù” with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce. A version of the academy’s recipe for American kitchens was also published. The academy’s recipe confines the ingredients to beef cut from the plate section (cartella di manzo), fresh unsmoked pancetta (pancetta di maiale distesa), onions, carrot, celery, passata (or tomato purée), meat broth, dry white wine, milk, salt and pepper.

Nowadays, there are many variations of the recipe even among native Italian chefs, and the repertoire has been further broadened by some American chefs known for their expertise in Italian cuisine.

Spaghetti bolognese is a pasta dish that is popular outside Italy, but not part of traditional Bolognese or even Italian cuisine in general. The dish is generally perceived as inauthentic when encountered by Italians abroad.

The largest bowl of pasta weighed 7,900 kg (17,417 lb) and was achieved by Czanieckie Makarony, Gmina Miejska Krakow and Magillo Restaurant (all Poland), in Krakow, Poland, on 24 October 2015. It took 40 chefs over 19 hours to cook and prepare the pasta. Once the record was completed they added a bolognese sauce made of minced pork and beef, tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and onions to the pasta and served it to over 10,000 people present at the attempt made up of runners and spectators.

The world record for the most dishes washed at one time is 23,892. Following the serving of pasta Bolognese, a team of 150 people from Vester Hæsinge Idrætsforening, Brobyværk Idrætsforening and Sandholt-Lyndelse Forsamlingshus cleaned the dishes using one litre (0.2 gal) of Fairy Liquid at the Langelandsfestivalen in Rudkøbing, Denmark on 28 July 2004 . After the serving of 3.75 tonnes (8,267 lb) of hot pasta bolognese, the dishes were washed from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. by 150 people, using 26 sinks and 200 tables.