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Searching for the Original Recipe for Authentic Bolognese
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Bolognese sauce, known in Italy as ragù alla bolognese, is a beloved meat-based pasta sauce that has evolved over time. While many variations exist, the official recipe registered with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce in 1982 is considered the most authentic version, featuring key ingredients like ground beef, pancetta, vegetables, tomatoes, wine, and milk.

 

Bolognese Recipe as Registered with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce

culinaryginger.com
culinaryginger.com
The original recipe for Bolognese sauce, officially registered with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce in 1982, includes:
  • Ground beef (preferably from the plate section)
  • Fresh unsmoked pancetta
  • Onions, carrots, and celery
  • Tomato paste or puree
  • Meat broth
  • Dry white wine
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper
This recipe, recorded by the Italian Academy of Cuisine (Accademia Italiana della Cucina), is dedicated to preserving Italy's culinary heritage and is considered the most authentic version of ragù alla bolognese. The inclusion of tomatoes in the form of paste or puree is a key component of the traditional recipe.
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Alberto Alvisi's 18th Century Recipe Pre-Dates the Chamber's Version with a Notable Difference

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Alberto Alvisi, a cook for Cardinal Barnaba Chiaramonti in the late 18th century, published an early Bolognese sauce recipe called "Ragù per li maccheroni appasiciati." This version used lean veal filet, pancetta, onions, carrots, broth, and butter, with optional ingredients like mushrooms, truffles, chicken liver, and cream. Notably absent from Alvisi's recipe are the tomatoes that are a key component of the sauce today. His recipe also included cinnamon as an optional seasoning, which is not found in the modern registered recipe.
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Analyzing the Recipe Differences

The registered Bolognese recipe from 1982 differs from Alvisi's 18th-century version in several key aspects. The modern recipe includes tomatoes (sauce or peeled), beef and pork belly, white wine, and milk, while Alvisi's recipe omits tomatoes and uses veal, pancetta, and only broth as the liquid. Additionally, Alvisi's recipe features optional ingredients like mushrooms, truffles, chicken liver, cream, and cinnamon, which are not mentioned in the registered recipe. These differences highlight the evolution of Ragù alla Bolognese from a simpler meat and broth-based sauce to the richer, tomato-inclusive sauce familiar today.
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Popularity on Italian Menus

ohsweetbasil.com
ohsweetbasil.com
The recipe for Ragù alla Bolognese registered with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce in 1982 is more widely used and recognized in Italy today, particularly in Bologna. This version, which includes minced beef, pancetta, vegetables, tomatoes, wine, and milk, is considered the most authentic and is commonly used to prepare traditional dishes like tagliatelle al ragù and lasagne alla bolognese. In contrast, Alberto Alvisi's older recipe from the late 18th century, which omits tomatoes and uses veal instead of beef, is less prevalent on modern Italian menus and is more of historical interest than a culinary standard.
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