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The word bolognaise translates as ‘in the style of Bologna’. As well being the regional capital of the Bologna Province and the Emilia-Romagna Region in northern Italy, bologna is a large Italian styled North American smoked sausage, usually containing a combination of finely ground and seasoned meats including beef, pork, lamb, chicken or turkey. An authentic Italian bolognaise sauce is more correctly referred to as a ‘ragù’, this being a meat based sauce traditionally served with a pasta. Ragù is a phonetical Italian spelling of the French word ragout, which is derived from the old French ‘ragoûter’, meaning ‘to revive the taste’. As with most cuisines methods for bolognaise vary across Italy, but a typical recipe would always begin with a ‘soffritto’ of finely diced onions, carrots and celery. This is fried in olive oil and butter until caramelised, then seasoned with garlic and herbs. Assorted fresh mushrooms are then added and cooked until tender. The meat is then added which is usually a blend of three finely ground meats. Pork, veal and lamb could be used but goose liver is also a popular addition. Next milk will be added, this renders the meat flavours more delicate. Sometimes cream may be used, but only in small amounts. The mixture is then brought to the boil. Red wine and a quality stock is added along with a little tomato paste. The ragù is then seasoned and allowed to simmer gently for around 6 hours. When ready the sauce is served with a fresh pasta such as ‘tagliatelle alla bolognese’. An authentic Italian bolognaise contains little tomato, would not necessarily include beef and would never be served with spaghetti. Spaghetti is a smooth textured pasta and so would not be able to retain any of sauce when served. The sauce would simply slide off the pasta and back onto the plate. A rough textured pasta such as tagliatelle is always used as this retains the bolognaise sauce.
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