Bolognese Sauce (or bolognaise as the English call it) – that classic Italian dish that everyone seems to have a different recipe for. Below is mine – perfected over many years and many attempts and this is the way I prefer to eat it…
First you need to peel and dice the onions. Add these to the pan (make sure you’re using an ovenproof one if you’re using the oven method (preferably one with a lid) – if you’re using a slow cooker, any pan will do at this point) with the oil and cook over a medium heat until they become translucent. Then slice the garlic and add this to the pan too, cooking for another couple of minutes.Add the minced beef (I like to use one with about 15% fat, rather than the lean one, as the fat makes the sauce richer and tastier, but as you’re slow cooking it, the lean mince will work too (as the long slow cooking time will tenderise it) if you’re watching the calories) and brown it off in the pan for a couple of minutes along with the onion and garlic.
At this point you transfer everything to a slow-cooker or crock pot and then continue on with the rest of the steps (or if you don’t have one, you can cook it in an ovenproof dish – the result will be very similar either way). You need to turn the oven on to 170C at this point to heat up.
Add the tinned tomatoes and the tomato puree and turn the heat up to high on the slow cooker.I always add a bit of stock to mine at this point – beef stock goes best and I think it gives the final sauce a much richer flavour. I also like to add red wine to my bolognese sauce for the same reason, so this goes in now too, along with two anchovy fillets – they really give the sauce a salty richness and depth of flavour that just doesn’t happen with salt alone (and I promise it won’t taste fishy! You won’t even know they’re there!)
Add the bay leaves and oregano and season well with plenty of salt and pepper and let the entire dish heat through until it is bubbling.Now the important bit – slow cook the sauce in the slow cooker for up to 8 hours (all day, or overnight) on the low setting, or at least 3 hours in the oven (making sure the lid is on the oven proof dish, or that you have covered the top in tin foil so that everything is enclosed). This allows the flavours to mellow and combine and it means that the mince is much more tender than if it is served straight away. You can leave it for longer than the suggested time, it will only make the sauce even tastier – as long as you don’t burn it!! I love making recipes in the crock pot as you can prepare them the night before and just turn it on when you leave for work. When you come home, dinner is ready and the house smells amazing!With half an hour of cooking time left, take the lid off to allow some of the liquid to evaporate and the sauce to thicken slightly – stir every 10 mins or so so that the top layer doesn’t burn or dry out.
Then it’s ready to serve – perfect over courgetti spaghetti (or proper pasta if you can eat it) – use it to make my Paleo Lasagne, moussaka – it’s so versatile, there are so many things you can do with it. My dad likes it on toast (but there’s no accounting for his taste). I like it straight out of a bowl with nothing else, almost like you would eat a bowl of chilli. I double this recipe when I need to make enough for a lasagne or I want some leftovers! And the best thing is, it will keep for up to 5 days (and it tastes even better the next day) in the fridge or you can freeze it in portions and just reheat when you want to use it until it’s piping hot all the way through. This recipe is enough for about 4 servings but I usually double it so that I can freeze some.Some people like to add mushrooms or carrots to it but I like to keep it just as it is – meaty and delicious! Sometimes the one addition I make is to add some fresh rosemary to it as it’s cooking, but only if I’m making it for myself as it’s really not everyone’s cup of tea. What’s your secret bolognese recipe, tip or ingredient? What’s your family’s recipe? I’d love to hear other ideas in the comments.