tagliatelle with mushroom ragu

Most gastronomic connoisseurs will tell you there’s a difference, however subtle between Ragù and Ragoût.  For most gourmands, the distinction lays in taste and variation of ingredients as embrace the same cooking technique.

So, why the dismay if the differences are that understated, even though they are pronounced exactly alike?

The vagaries can be blamed in the comparison of certain ingredients that are more predominant in Ragù and less prevalent in Ragoût.  They both however share the same secret weapon – the low and slow braising process.

Ragù uses more tomato-infused sauces including ground meats, such as in the distinctive Sugo a la Bolognese.  Ragoût has stew-like consistency with meat, fish or vegetables as contenders and a velvety deep flavored sauce – a good example is Wild Mushroom Ragoût .

In France, Ragoût refers to a main dish stew. It comes from the French term “raguoûer” which literally means “revive the taste or excite the appetite”.  Italy borrowed the term from the French when it was developed in the 18thCentury with its most common dish being Ragù alla Napoletana, a staple in Napoli.

Spaghetti, Linguini, Capellini and Fettuccini are the common denominator with Ragù, as it’s characteristically served over long noodles and not tubular pastas.  Most Ragoûts can be served with mashed potatoes, polenta or large pasta like Rigatoni or Paccheri.

Ragù variations in Italy not only emerge in every household, passed down in generations. Their origins are defined by regions with every household and restauranteur infusing their own singular twist.  Illustrating that perfectly is the ever popular Spaghetti Bolognese in the Northern part of Italy, Bologna, but still served all over the country.

Whichever way you dissect or contemplate the nuances, try not to become saturnine about it.  All you need to know is that Ragoûts and Ragùs are mind-bendingly delectable and don’t fall in your average-ville recipe repertoire.

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