Having a recipe for a spaghetti Bolognese is a staple in any cook’s repertoire. This is my recipe and has evolved for me since I first made it to what it is now. Even if you already have a recipe that you rely on I hope that maybe I can provide a little inspiration to add or try something new. For example, if you wish, start by frying off some cubed pancetta or smoked bacon lardons, adding the vegetables when the pancetta is crispy and continuing with the recipe from there. You could also experiment with half beef, half pork mince as I do with my meatball recipe. Pork mince adds excellent flavour but as with the pancetta increases the fat content so consider this if you are being mindful of your calorie intake.
This recipe makes a large pot of Bolognese sauce but it is extremely versatile and freezes very well. It improves with age and so as with all stews and ragùs will be even better the following day. What I tend to do when I make this is serve it as a spaghetti Bolognese on the day of making, prepare into a lasagna for the following day’s supper and freeze the rest, if there’s any leftover. There are quite a number of processes here and what might seem complicated upon first reading becomes quite simple on application.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions finely diced
- 2 large carrots finely diced
- 2 sticks celery finely diced
- 1kg/2lbs round steak mince
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp sundried tomato puree (optional)
- 2 x 400g tins tomatoes
- 400g passata
- 3 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1 beef stockcube (I use a Knorr Rich Beef stockpot)
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- A glass of red wine
- 200ml milk
- Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 180°C Fan/400°F/Gas Mark 6
The Mince Beef
- Spread the mince out on a baking tray and season very generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and break up the mince as best you can with a wooden spoon and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. At this stage the meat with be browned but if you have time break it down again with a wooden spoon and return to the oven for another 5 minutes until extra crispy. If you are a bit short on time cook the mince in batches on a frying pan until again nicely brown and crispy. I am recommending the oven method here because I find that it having the mince in the oven frees up time to prepare vegetables and sauté them just in time to receive the mince when it comes from the oven. Choose whatever suits you best but if you have time try this method.
The Vegetables and the Puree
- While the meat is in the oven prepare your onions, carrots, and celery. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil to a high heat in a large heavy based frying pan and add the vegetables. Saute the vegetables until they are soft and the onions translucent, approximately 7 minutes.
- Add the tomato puree and sundried tomato puree (if using) and stir through the vegetables for 2 minutes cooking on a medium high heat to remove the “raw” taste of the puree. Remove from the pan and add to a large pot in which to cook your ragu.
Mushrooms and the Wine
- Put the frying pan on a high heat and add the wine, deglazing it by scraping any residue stuck to the pan with a wooden spoon. Add this wine to your pot with the vegetables.
Bringing Everything Together
- When the mince is ready from the oven add to your saucepan.
- Add the tins of tomatoes, passata, tomato ketchup, bay leaves, red wine vinegar and stir through.
- Boil the kettle and pour about 100ml (approx.) just-boiled water into the baking tray used to cook the mince, using a wooden spoon or a whisk to collect any stuck on bits of crispy cooked beef that usually collect in the corners and sides of the tray. Pour this liquid into your Bolognese.
- Add the stock cube and milk, stirring until the stock cube has dissolved.
- Bring the Bolognese sauce to a boil, and then turn down the heat to low and simmer very gently for 2 ½ to 3 hours or however long you have. Try to give it at least 1½ hours if you can.
- Serve with spaghetti, or other long pasta, and plenty of grated parmesan