One of the joys of spending time in Bologna is that I don’t need an excuse to order dishes with bolognese sauce every day. And one of the joys of growing old is that I can claim to do this in the name of “research”. Stuff and nonsense, as you well know. The main reason I have had some bolognese sauce every day is that I love it. Especially when it is well made.
Which brings me to the point of this post. Just what is a well-made bolognese? If you look up wikipedia, this is what you get. The article starts off with the following:
Bolognese sauce (ragù alla bolognese in Italian, also known by its French name sauce bolognaise) is a meat based sauce for pasta originating in Bologna, Italy. Bolognese sauce is sometimes taken to be a tomato sauce but authentic recipes have only a small amount of tomato.
…authentic recipes have only a small amount of tomato. Okay, let’s park that thought for a moment.
The article then goes on to say:
The recipe, issued in 1982 by the Bolognese delegation of Accademia Italiana della Cucina, confines the ingredients to beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, meat broth, white wine, and (optionally) milk or cream. However, different recipes, far from the Bolognese tradition, make use of chopped pork, chicken or goose liver along with the beef or veal for variety, or use butter with olive oil. Prosciutto, mortadella, or porcini fresh mushrooms may be added to the soffritto to enrich the sauce.
Okay, so it would appear that tomato paste is definitely part of the “official” recipe. So let’s then take a look at what the Accademia Italiana della Cucina actually has to say about this. More precisely, let’s take a look at what the Accademia says about Emilia-Romagna ragu sauces:
Pomodoro maturi (oppure pelati o concentrato). So we still have the tomato, with different options.
Everything I looked at had quite a bit of tomato in it. Yet the locals (and even Wikipedia for that matter) keep stating “only a small amount of tomato”.
I guess it’s all down to taste. You say tomahto and I say tomayto.
After five days, I know what I like. For me, the stuff that looks like this:
tastes infinitely better than the stuff that looks like this:
[Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia]. All I know is that the bolognese sauce I really like doesn’t have any red about it, the tomato is either in small amounts or slow-cooked to extinction.
As I said before, it’s a matter of taste. So I am looking for recipes that are low in tomato. Of course there are a million other things that matter, people use different meats, different spices, different ways of cooking. I’m just trying to simplify things for myself by concentrating on the behaviour of one ingredient: the tomato. Fresh or not? Hand-peeled and hand-pressed or not? And how much. Pomodoro is assumed, I guess.
Comments please. As usual I will learn from them, and share what I learn.