Spaghetti Bolognese

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October 28, 2012 by twodogjam

Everyone needs to have a spaghetti bolognese recipe. An old favourite that you tweak and refine over the years until it becomes your specialty. Mine started life as an adaptation of Delia Smith’s Authentic Ragu Bolognese from her Winter Collection. Each time I make it, it’s a little different. Always tasty but never quite the same. That’s the beauty of this dish!
And I make a large batch and then divide into smaller portions for the freezer. Just as Delia suggests. So you always have a tasty meal at hand.

Ingredients

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 rashers of long bacon, chopped into small pieces
  • 1kg lean minced beef
  • 500g minced pork
  • 2x tins of Italian whole tomatoes
  • 1/2x 100g tin of double concentrated Italian tomato purée
  • half bottle of red wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoons quality balsamic vinegar
  • leaves from half a small bunch of basil, chopped
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, finely grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 140ºC.

You will need a large casserole dish for the slow cooking of this sauce in the oven. If you don’t have one, borrow one as the slow cooking is what gives this Bolognese sauce its rich flavour.

In a large frying pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Gently fry the onion and garlic. Stir frequently over a medium heat and fry for about 5 minutes until onion is translucent and soft. Add chopped bacon to the garlic and onion and keep stirring for another 5 minutes so that bacon begins to cook. Then transfer the contents of the frying pan-onion, garlic and bacon- to the casserole.

Still using the frying pan, turn up the heat and add about a third of the mince. I use a non-stick frying pan so I don’t add extra oil when cooking the mince. There will be enough fat in the meat to stop it from sticking.

Frying meat for bolognese sauceWith the higher heat, the mince cooks quickly but keep moving it around so that it breaks up and browns all over. When liquid starts to ooze out, the mince is browned enough. At this point, move the pan off the heat and tip gently on its side so that the liquid falls away and collects to one side while you move the mince away to the opposite side from the liquid. With the pan on this angle, gently remove the liquid from the pan with a spoon. I like to do this to get rid of the excess fat. If you use a non-stick pan and don’t add olive oil when browning the mince, you know that you getting rid of the fat from the meat rather than the oil. Once you’ve removed the excess fat, put the browned mince into the casserole dish with the onions, garlic and bacon.

Brown the rest of the beef mince in the frying pan in batches as before and also add to the casserole dish. Then brown the pork mince in the frying pan in the same way and again add to the casserole dish when browned with the other ingredients.

You are now finished with the frying pan so put in the sink ready to wash up.

Put the casserole dish onto the stove on a medium heat. Stir the ingredients together and add the contents of the tins tomatoes. Half fill each tin with water and swirl around to get any remaining tomato juice off the inside of the tin and add contents to the casserole dish. Then add the wine, sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and grated nutmeg.

Give everything a good stir. Don’t worry about breaking up the whole tomatoes: they will break up when they are cooking.

Let the sauce come up to simmering point and then add the chopped basil. Give the sauce another good stir and when it comes to simmering point again, pop it into the oven without the lid.

Let the sauce cook slowly for 3-4 hours, checking it every hour and giving it a stir. After about 3 hours, the sauce will be thick and dark.

Cook your spaghetti pasta as indicated on the packet. Drain the spaghetti and add back to the pan it was cooked in. Add two or three large spoons of sauce (or as many as you like) and mix the pasta and sauce together gently. Serve and ready to eat….add grated parmesan and green salad on side. Oh, and don’t forget a nice drop of red wine. Magnifico!

Plate of spaghetti bolognese

 

 

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