Ragù is a sauce with visible pieces. The name comes from the French word ragout, and is one of the most popular sauces for pasta. The variants across Italy are endless, using all different kinds of meats in various combinations, stewed or simmered with vegetables. Many recipes start out with a soffrito.
The most celebrated, and most abused, ragù of all is ragù alla bolognese, the original of a thousand variations of spaghetti bolognese or spag bol. As of 1982, Bologna's delegation of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina has produced an official recipe that features finely chopped beef flank or skirt (cartella), unsmoked pancetta, carrot, celery, onion, tomato concentrate (for sweetness) red or white wine, milk (which softens the acidity of the tomato) and olive oil, cooked slowly for three to four hours. Porcini mushrooms are optional. The sauce is never served with spaghetti, which is too thin and slippery for the sauce to adhere to; the proper pasta is fresh tagliatelle, or fettuccine; it's also used as the sauce for baked pasta dishes such as canneloni or lasagne.
The famous sauce of Naples, 'o rraù, or ragù alla napoletana, stews veal, pork ribs, plenty of onions, red wine, butter, tomatoes and fresh basil, and sometimes pine nuts and raisins (or leftover braciole). After long slow cooking, the meat is used as a main course, similar to the Ligurian tocco.
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