The humble bolognese, a staple favourite among young and old. This is a dish that almost everyone can do. Not only that, everyone has their own way of cooking it. My way has developed over the years. I kept with a certain way of doing it for a long time, with only slight changes to ingredients and length of time cooking it. Well, after seeing a few alternative ways of making it from people like Heston, I’ve developed it into what we have today.
I think most people will cook their bolognese by starting with onion and garlic, add the beef mince, then the tomato and then cook it down for as long as you have patience. I’d done it like this for years. Now I go completely the other way round!
The best way I’ve found is to start with the tomato sauce. Cook this down for as long as you can so you have an amazing tomato sauce before you go near anything else. You get much more depth of flavour this way. Also it means you could cook up a big batch of tomato sauce before hand, so when it comes to making the bolognese you can actually save a lot of time. Plus this can be used for all kinds of recipes. You can portion it out and freeze it as well.
So First off we will do the tomato sauce. It’s super easy and a great thing to cook on a weekend when you have some time in the house to let it slow cook. Now I try not to use many processed foods. However I think tinned tomatoes are absolutely fine. Always read the ingredients on the back of the can to check that no salt or sugar has been added. It should read. Tomato & Tomato Juice. That’s it. Much better for you to have the control of the salt and sugar that you want to add.
So, for the sauce you will need;
- 4-5 tins of tomatoes (the whole tomatoes are best) or 2kg of ripe tomatoes of choice – roughly diced. I find Ox Heart tomatoes really good for this. The quantity of tomatoes will depend how much sauce you want to make.
- 4 cloves of garlic – Peeled and kept whole
- Maldon Salt
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Organic Brown Sugar / Coconut Sugar / Panella (evaporated cane juice)
- Extra Virgin Olive oil
1. Put a pan on a medium heat. Add the olive oil then the cloves of garlic. Let these cook around for a bit to take on a light golden colour. Now add the tins of tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of balsamic and a tablespoon of the sugar. Season with large pinch of salt and pepper, mix well then bring to a simmer.
Thats pretty much it. You just want to simmer this so it reduces by about 1/2 to 2/3. The longer the better really. I’d say about 3 hours on a very low simmer. If you’re feeling rich then use real tomatoes instead of tinned.
Ok now for the meaty bit!
I’m using two pans here. One thick bottomed deep sauce pan and one large heavy bottomed frying pan.
Ingredients you will need;
- 500g Free Range Pork Mince / Lamb Mince
- 500g Organic Grass Fed Beef Mince
- Onions – Diced
- Garlic – 2 cloves – peeled and kept whole
- Carrots – Diced
- Celery – Diced
- 1 Large Red Pepper – Diced
- 6-8 medium size mushrooms – I like to use medium sized portobello mushrooms.
- Red or White wine – I prefer white wine for this.
- Oregano – Dried
- Fresh Basil – Good Handful
- Fresh Parmesan – Reggiano
1. ok so get your deep sauce pan on a medium heat. Once it’s heated up add a good splash of olive oil then fry off the the garlic cloves until a light golden on all sides then add the onion, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Keep it moving around and cook off slowly for about 20 mins.
2. Now once this has cooked for about 15 mins get the frying pan on a high heat. We’re going to cook off the mince. Let the pan get really hot then add a splash of oil and fry off the meat in small batches. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of dried oregano for each batch. Just add each batch once it’s cooked off to our main pan as we go. Just make sure to stir through each time you add a batch. After you do each batch, let the frying pan get nice and hot again before you add more meat. You might need to add a little splash of oil each time.
3. Once you’ve fried off the meat, pour a glass of wine into the pan to de-glaze the pan. Our this into the main pan, give it a stir and then we’re ready to add the tomato sauce. Give it a good stir then simmer gently.
4. While this is simmering get your frying pan on a high heat and add a splash of oil. Add the red peppers and season with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Fry this off for a few mins until the peppers has softened and taken a touch of colour. Add this to our main pan.
5. Now pop the frying pan back on the heat (don’t add any more oil) and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook down for about 2 mins then add a small knob of butter and stir well. Cook for a further 1 min then add to the main pan.
6. Now just let the sauce continue to gently simmer with the lid off. I like to give it at least an hour. You can cook it for longer, it just depends when you want to eat really.
7. From here you can pop the pasta on. Follow the pack instructions. Always make sure to salt the water properly. Technically you’re supposed to use 1lt of water for every 100 grams of pasta.
8. While the pasta is cooking turn the heat off on the bolognese. Add 2 knobs of butter, grate a handful of parmesan and a handful of torn fresh basil. Pop the lid on the leave to rest for 5 mins while the pasta finishes cooking.
Drain the pasta, drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper.
Remove the lid on the bolognese, stir well then serve with the pasta.