One of my all time favourite comfort foods has to be a good old bolognese sauce. After years of experimenting, this is my ultimate recipe for the most delicious bolognese you will every make. Feel free to use it on any shape pasta, but I think it works best when paired with a freshly made fettuccine, as it offers lots of pasta surface area to soak up all those wonderful flavours! Of course, the classic spaghetti works well too.
The secret to this recipe for the amazing flavour foundation is quite simple. It is derived essentially from the multiple times the sauce is reduced. The process of reducing the liquid with the lid off, leaves behind an intensified condensed flavour. So the more times you reduce this sauce, the better it will taste. Your patience will absolutely reward you in the end, promise…
- 500 grams lean minced beef [best quality you can find]
- 1 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1 cup finely chopped white onion
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 400 grams freshly chopped tomatoes [without skin] or canned
- Dash Virgin Olive Oil
- Sprig of Rosemary [approx. 4-5 inches]
- 2-3 Bay Leaves
- 2 cups of red wine
- Salt and pepper to season
- Grated parmesan or mature cheddar
- Finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- Freshly made pasta – cut into wide long strips [see fresh egg pasta recipe right here] or a packet of store bought.
Time > 10 mins Preparation, 60 mins Cooking
- In a large hot and heavy pan, add virgin olive oil and gently fry off your aromatics – the garlic, onions, celery, carrot until softened, set aside in a bowl or plate.
- In the same pan, add a splash more virgin olive oil and heat until the pan is smoking hot. Season the beef mince well with salt and pepper, then add to the hot pan. It is important to keep the pan hot and try not to stir it too much, otherwise the meat will boil in its own liquid.
- Continue to fry until all browned and broken into small chunks, don’t worry if the bottom of the pan is gaining colour [this if flavour!] but be careful not to let it burn.
- Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scrapping at the bottom of the pan to help dissolve all the dark staining, then reduce the liquid by about a third. Reduce the heat to low-medium, and add the tomato paste mixed with a cup a water, stir together with the wine.
- Add the bay leafs, rosemary sprig, re-add the set aside previously fried aromatics [softened garlic, onions, celery, carrot] and add the chopped tomatoes, give it all a good stir.
- Top up the sauce with a few cups of water until the sauce is covered with approximately 2-3 inches, keep the pan uncovered without a lid.
The idea now is to keep the heat on low-medium, stir every now to prevent the bottom from burning, and reduce the liquid down. Then top it up with water again. Do this at least 2-3 times. Keep in mind that the more times you reduce the sauce, the more intensified the flavour will be as you are left each time with a more concentrated sauce. So simply, the more times you can do this, the better the sauce.
When you are ready to eat, make sure that the sauce has been reduced and is not watery. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if required.
- In a separate pot of salted and oiled boiling water, add your pasta. If you have fresh pasta, it will only take around 2 minutes. If store bought, follow the cooking instructions. Drain the pasta and do not rinse with water, retain a small amount of the starchy cooking water [just in case you need to add to the sauce later if it is too thick].
- Add the pasta to the sauce, give it a careful stir to give it a good coating of the sauce. Plate up the pasta, finishing it with a good dollop of minced beef and sauce on top. Sprinkle with parmesan or mature cheddar, and some chopped parsley.
• Tips •
Do not season the sauce at the beginning, as the flavour changes with each reduction. Other than seasoning the raw mince, it is better to season the sauce to taste at the end.
For more flavour, use 80% lean beef mince and 20% minced pork.
If you like your sauce a little sweeter, add a squeeze of tomato ketchup. Use this sauce for lasagna!