The Traditional Italian Recipe to Rigatoni Bolognese
The NY Times recently published a delicious sounding “Italian” recipe Rigatoni With White Bolognese. Though as great as it sounds, as a local I can tell you they got it wrong — this is not an Italian dish.
In fact, this recipe does not exist in Bologna, nor in its region and birthplace of Emilia-Romagna. Rigatoni with White Bolognese simply does not belong in a true Italian tradition.
As I sit to write this piece, I smile of course. We are humbled and honored that people from all over the world have a strong appetite for our Italian cuisine. So it is with a cheerful language I write;
Dear Lady Amanda Hesser,
The grandmothers born in Emilia-Romagna would not dare to use any sort of dried mushrooms in our beloved rigatoni. They would also say, never touch the traditional Italian cuisine.
Side note: Do you believe that the danger is in the details? So, look at the photo once more. Never in Italy, does a silver spoon touch the dish until it is served. Italians would use a wooden spoon.
The official recipe of the true Bolognese Sauce, was filed October 17, 1982 by the Italian Academy of Cucina at the Chambre of Commerce of Bologna. The traditional ingredients of Ragù alla Bolognese consists of roughly minced beef pulp, panchetta, yellow carrot, celery, onion, pulped or peeled tomatoes, dry white wine, whole milk, a little broth, olive oil or butter, salt and pepper.
A Classic Bolognese:
1lb ground beef
6 oz panchetta, diced
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 small onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped sage
14 oz tomatoes in juices, crushed by hands
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
3 cups beef stock
1 cup whole mike
2 bay leaves
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup buffalo mozzarella, pulled apart into chunks
1/4 cup parsley, leaves removed from stems
salt and pepper
TIP: The best pasta to use for ragù alla Bolognese is handmade tagliatelle all’uovo (egg tagliatelle).
While dried mushrooms play their role in some Italian recipes, they stay away from this one. However, porcini mushrooms are allowed as needed 🙂 Academy approved too.
When it comes to Italian recipes, ‘white’ is defined as a dish without tomatoes. So it has become common to eliminate tomatoes in some recipes creating the ‘white’ version of the particular dish, in this case ragu.
We Italians are vehement in defending our culinary culture. Therefore, for the future do whatever you want, but think twice before calling into question the Italian recipe!