Tagliatelle alla Bolognese is made up of two parts
- Ragù alla Bolognese (also called ‘Bolognese Sauce’)
- Tagliatella (the Pasta).
In the U.S., you’ll often find ‘Spaghetti alla Bolognese’, however, that’s actually not the correct name or noodle for this sauce. In fact, spaghetti alla bolognese doesn’t actually exist in Italy. The correct name is Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. Read more about the confusion on this dish here.
What is Ragù alla Bolognese (Bolognese Sauce)?
Ragù alla Bolognese is a traditional ragù (meat sauce) composed of minced meat, white wine, soffrito (onions, celery, carrot), and a splash of tomato. The dish is native to Emilia Romagna, a northern-central region of Italy.
There’s a lot of misconception surrounding Ragù alla Bolognese. The first is that it requires many ingredients. Like most Italian dishes, more does not equal better. Keep it simple, there’s no need to add everything in your refrigerator to the pot. The second misconception is that Ragù alla Bolognese is ‘hard’ to make. As long as you have patience, you will be able to perfect any ragù.
For an incredible Ragù, simple high-quality ingredients and patience are most important. Your patience will help thicken up the sauce because ‘melting’ the meat is key. Don’t rush the sauce, unless you want a sad and soggy meal.
Bolognese sauce is traditionally served with tagliatelle egg noodles, hence the name Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. However, the sauce is also served with other types of pasta such as lasagna or the typical poor dish of the past, polenta. You can also find Ragù alla Bolognese served with spaghetti (called ‘spaghetti alla bolognese’) everywhere except Italy, it’s even sold in cans. Although common in other parts of the world, ‘Spaghetti all bolognese’ is not a reflection of Emilian cuisine and doesn’t exist in Italy.
Emilians have always preferred the authentic, original tagliatelle: egg dough, usually fresh, vs. durum wheat semolina pasta, generally dried. They often make the pasta fresh but you can find tagliatelle at your local super market. We rarely make pasta, so almost always buy. Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging for cooking.