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How to cook tagliatelle al ragú by Bethany Salvon & Randy Kalp


he Hungarians call it bolognai spagetti, the British refer to it as spag bol, and in the United States, we say spaghetti Bolognese. This simple plate of spaghetti and meat sauce has gained worldwide popularity, except in Italy where there is no such thing, in part because Bolognese ragù is customarily served with fresh tagliatelle, a flat porous noodle from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy that is ideal for thick sauces.

up into the pasta,” Chef Ivan Poletti says. “But just 30

It’s no secret that spaghetti Bolognese is loved the world over. In fact, a 2009 BBC survey revealed that 65% of Britons said they can make the recipe by heart. I can only imagine that the number would be about the same for the United States, where spaghetti doused with meat sauce rivals beer in popularity at colleges. However, true Bolognese ragù is meatier than its tomatolaced imposters and always contains a combination of finely chopped carrots, celery and onion. So then how did the beloved Italian dish of Tagliatelle al Ragù get so butchered by the world?

sauce with diners at Cantina

To understand, one may only have to look at how recipes can change from one town to the next in Emilia Romagna. “In Modena, where I grew up, the mortadella filling that is stuffed into tortellini is pre-cooked before being folded

kilometers away in Bologna and Ferrara, the filling is fresh when it is wrapped up.” Now, just think about how much change can occur in 4,000 miles. Boloney anyone? Bolognese ragù is in Poletti’s DNA­—he grew up eating his grandmother’s sauce, which she cooked every Sunday over a wood fire for Tagliatelle al Ragù. Poletti now shares his version of his family’s Bentivoglio



an acclaimed jazz club and restaurant in the city’s Old Town district. With the help of our good friend Nicholas Montemaggi of Emilia Romagna Tourism, we were able to get Poletti’s recipe for Bolognese ragù for our story on Men’s Health: Cook Real Bolognese Ragù. However, we also wanted to share the recipe here along with Poletti’s recipe for homemade tagliatelle, so you can try the traditional Bolognese dish for yourself. I made the sauce a few weeks back for Beth’s family and everyone really enjoyed it. Because I didn’t have the time to make fresh tagliatelle, I substituted in fettuccine, which worked pretty well. The biggest thing to remember is that the sauce needs to simmer over low heat for at least three hours.


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