We were making a lot of bolognese for our twins since they started eating solids – east to make, has some veg in (and we lace it with courgettes and spinach so they get an extra dose of greens), and can be eaten with and without pasta. Before them it had been a long old time since I’d made a bolognese for myself. Even then, effort was minimal. Onions, beef, tomato – of course. A bit of garlic, herbs, tomato paste – naturally. That’s pretty much where it stopped though. I cooked it quick and was happy with whatever the result was, but I guess I stopped eating it as it wasn’t knock out flavour.
Now that’s all changed. I’m using nice plum tomato passata (or blitzing San Marzanos myself), freshly ground beef, adding bay leafs, Parmesan rind, balsamic, red wine, actually using a real soffrito combo. Not to mention cooking the thing on the lowest possible heat for hours. You get the picture – my finally taking my bolognese seriously.
I do a lot of variations, but here is the most recent I did.
Bolognese sauce (makes enough for 4 decent helpings)
Serve with fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine if you can. Any other pasta works great too.
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, peeled and finely diced
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 400g beef mince
- 1 jar passata (any will do, but I wouldn’t skimp here)
- 1 bay leaf
- 200ml beef or chicken stock
- 50ml red wine (use red wine you like drinking, don’t go cheap)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 Parmesan rind (if you can get good aged Parmesan, that’s the best – never throw the rind away again!)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put a little vegetable oil in a good sized pot on medium heat and add garlic and onions.
- When softened (3-5 mins) add carrots and celery. Cook until softened and then put aside in a bowl.
- Fry up the mince beef in the same pan on medium heat until browned.
- Reintroduce the onion/carrot/celery/garlic then cover with passata.
- Add in remaining ingredients and stir. I usually add another bit of water – maybe 100ml to wash out the passata jar.
- Bring to a boil and then put the heat down to the lowest setting. Simmer for several hours until reduced by half. Stir frequently.
- Remove bay leaf and Parmesan rind and discard when complete.
I usually cook between 2-4 hours uncovered. Sometimes longer. The aim is to get rid of most of the water in be left with a beautiful and texture full sauce that clings to the pasta.
I tried this in a lasagne the other day and that was brilliant too!