Ragu is not Bolognese. It’s true that both are Italian favorites, both are sauces made with meat, but’s it’s also true that they are different.
Ragu is also a meat-based Italian sauce and stay with me here, is a distinct variation of Ragu. Most people think of Ragu as a tomato sauce, but it’s actually a meat-based (veal, beef, lamb, pork, fish or poultry) sauce with a small amount of tomato sauce added to it. Ragu sauce has more meat and minced elements, specifically minced carrot, celery and pancetta…also known as soffritto, and is made with wine, beef broth, and usually a little bit of heavy cream or milk poured in it to lighten the color and enrich the flavor.
Ragu alla Bolognese or Bolognese is a variation of Ragu and the most popular version of Ragu. Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy and dates all the way back to the 15th century.
It uses white wine and less tomatoes. Beef, soffritto, pancetta, onions, tomato paste, meat broth, white wine, and cream or milk. Like many Italian preparations, Bolognese sauce has different variations primarily when it comes to the meat of choice. Pork, chicken, veal, rabbit, goose, and others are all candidates.
Which Sauce With Which Pasta?
Typically Ragu sauces are used with spaghetti pasta, while Bolognese is used for wider-shaped pasta like lasagna. The thinking is that the thick sauce blends better with wider-shaped pasta.
When we look at Italian Cuisine, we can see that there are multiple incidents where virtually the same simple ingredients are manipulated multiple ways- often using different ratios of ingredients or methods.
For instance, a wide variety of Pasta is made with the same ingredients, but truly transformed with an endless array of shapes, sizes, widths, and textures. Some are better with certain sauces…as their shape makes a perfect vehicle for a particular sauce.
So when it comes to Ragu vs Bolognese, the differences may be primarily ratios, but nonetheless the end results are impactful.
Come in and try both to see which you prefer. Gnocchi with Veal Ragu, Baked Fusilli Bolognese, or Spaghetti with Bolognese or Ragu should give you plenty of “research” options! Taste the Ragu and Bolognese. Taste the Love.