If I think ‘Bolognese’, I think comfort. I think of a gorgeous night in with the family slurping up pasta with a delicious and hearty bolognese clinging so wonderfully to all that we slurp. I think of the kids with big bolognese grins holding their bowls to the big red cast iron pot for more. I always make more! You see, I make more, usually in the hope to freeze (it freezes so well) or to layer a delicious lasagna (flexible little number, isn’t it!) but then it is impossible for a Mother to resist the gorgeous pleading eyes and the big bolognese smile of my gorgeous girls?
Many know the dish as ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’ however the real thing is called Tagliatelle al Ragu’. This meaty sauce comes from Bologna in Emilia Romagna. The real deal is a mixture of at least two types of meat, such as lean beef and pork or veal. Use a deep heavy-based saucepan, pour yourself a glass of wine and picture yourself in Bologna (it makes it taste so much better so crucial that you don’t miss this step) as this hearty and beautiful sauce simmers away, just waiting to smack itself on to your loved ones ‘Bolognese smile!’
1 medium sized onion, diced
1 celery stalk, finely sliced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
100g pancetta, diced
250g minced beef
250g minced pork
Murray River Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano (use dried if you don;t have fresh)
2-3 heaped tablespoons of tomato paste
1 large bay leaf
1 x 400g good quality Italian tinned tomatoes, chopped
300ml red wine
1 beef stock cube, crumbled
Fresh basil, to serve & if not basil season, use plenty of chopped flat leaf parsley
Heat a splash of olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and sauté onion for a few minutes to soften but not to colour. Add the celery, carrot, garlic and pancetta and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and smelling sweet.
Increase the heat and add the meat, in batches if need be, and brown well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the oregano, tomato paste, bay leaf, tomatoes, wine, stock cube and water. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, with the lid slightly askew, for approximately 1 hour. Stir your sauce from time to time and do keep an eye on it. If it looks like it is drying out, add a a splash of water. Remove the lid and simmer for another 20-30 minutes. The colour of your sauce should be deeply rich and if not, you may want to cook for a touch longer.
Season bolognese to taste with sea salt and a good grinding of freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with drained pasta, fresh basil leaves and freshly grated parmesan (despite the fact that purisits like this dish without!).
On occasion, I tie some fresh rosemary to a wooden spoon and stir my sauce, every so often, with this. It infuses the sauce with a truly lovely flavour. Whatever you do, DO NOT, leave your rosemary spoon just sitting in the sauce whilst it cooks as the rosemary will completely dominate and your sauce loose all the balance and sweetness that it should have.