When you’re craving meat or something hearty in the approaching winter, a good spaghetti bolognese can sometimes be exactly what you need. Now, I was never that great at making bolognese, it was always too tomato-y or too bland to really hit the spot. So, I decided that I would do some research to find out how to make the ultimate bolognese.
So, the basics for bolognese are pretty simple, and really you can add anything to it to bulk it up, especially if you’re strapped for cash and can’t afford a lot of meat. Some recipes add mushrooms, bacon or assorted veg to bulk up the sauce, but I prefer a simpler sauce, mince, tomatoes and red wine, with minimal additions. It’s all in the simmering you see; leaving the bolognese for a good hour or two really gets the flavours going.
Ingredients & Equipment (serves 3-4 depending on portion size):
- 400g beef mince (I used double quantity so I had some left over for freezing)
- 1x tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cartoon of tomato passata
- 3 tsp of tomato puree
- 1x 33cl bottle of red wine (most supermarkets do a cheap bottle for under £2)
- 1x onion, finely chopped
- 1x stick of celery, finely chopped
- 1x carrot, finely chopped
- seasoning: salt, pepper, basil and oregano, thyme, rosemary (fresh herbs are great, but dried herbs work just as well. Incidentally, Lidl sells assorted potted herbs for £1, as does Asda)
- A large saucepan or wok
- Pasta for eating!
1. Heat a splash of olive/sunflower oil in your pan and add the chopped onions. Gently cook, on medium heat for 5 mins, or until onions begin to soften.
2. Add the mince and gently cook until mince starts to brown – roughly 5-10 minutes. Don’t forget to stir mince to make sure it is evenly cooked.
3. Add the tomato puree and stir, allow it to settle in for a few minutes. Keep stirring. (Forgive the confusing pictures, I forgot to add the puree before the wine, it tasted just as good!)
4. Add all the wine, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 10 minutes or so, allowing the mince to absorb the wine. It’s important to add the wine early on, so the alcohol has time to burn off.
5. Add the chopped celery, carrot and the seasoning and stir.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato passata and stir in.
7. Leave to simmer for 1hour – 2hours, stirring occasionally, until carrots and celery have softened and sauce has reduced. The mince should be tender and sauce more brown than red.
8. Cook some pasta, either spaghetti or whatever you have to hand, and serve yourself a delicious helping of bolognese. Add parmesan or grana padana to taste. And enjoy.
And there you go. It may be a long process, but, as part of an evening or at a weekend, it’s a delicious meal and you may even have some left over to put in the freezer for later; it should last for a month or two, if you can spare it!