Pronunciation: [rah-GOO boh-loh-NYEH-zeh]
A thick, full-bodied meat sauce that's a staple of northern Italy's Bologna region. Ragu usually contains ground beef (and sometimes pork), pancetta, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots and garlic, enhanced with wine, milk or cream and seasonings. The term alla Bolognese (in French, à la Bolognese) on a menu designates a pasta or other dish sauced with ragu. The words for Italian ragu and French ragoût (though for entirely different dishes) are both derived from the verb ragoûter, which means "to stimulate the appetite."
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.