Slow-cooked meat sauces, called ragùs, are made all over Italy, though the best known comes from Bologna in Emilia-Romagna and is the ancestor of Australia’s beloved ‘spag bol’. Not that it would ever be served with dried spaghetti in Emilia-Romagna where fresh egg pastas, like tagliatelle and fettuccine, are more typical. There are as many recipes for ragù alla Bolognese as there are Mamas and Nonnas cooking it, but to prevent anyone straying too far from tradition the Italian Academy of Cuisine codified the ‘official’ recipe in 1982, and that’s what my version is based on. The secret ingredients are milk (to balance the tomatoes’ acidity) and time (as a long simmer is essential). Use good Italian canned tomatoes, such as Mutti, and a good red wine too, like Pike’s Premio Sangiovese. Enjoy the rest of the bottle with your fettuccine Bolognese – remember if it’s not good enough to drink it’s not good enough to cook with. Buon appetito!
Serves 8 as a starter
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