Bolognese; It's one of those recipes that many of us learned or mastered early. Ragù Bolognese (as it's called if you want to sound a weeny bit pretentious but true to its roots) was pretty much the first dish I learned to cook.
The difficulty with writing this recipe is that everyone has their own version, and even those who don't much care for cooking, well their version is the best because it's a personal thing that has been repeated, tweaked and somewhat mastered over the years.
Prior to this one I'd been through many version. In the glory days of my late teens/early twenties I used to make a bolognese in 30 mins, I'd basically add sugar and salt in it's many forms to flavour it, basically I'd add yeast extract and tomato sauce. And really, this is kinda (massively) cheating.
These days however I'm all about slow food and slow cooking. That's how to really make these ingredients shine and as effective as shortcuts can be, time really is a wonderful thing.
This recipe takes very little prep, very little actual work, it just needs a bit of planning ahead and ideally a slow cooker.
Serves: 4 people
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 5 hours
* indicates optional ingredients
1 tsp fat (olive oil/ghee/tallow/rapeseed oil)
2 medium brown onions, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
400g (1 tin) tomatoes (chopped or whole is fine)
5 whole fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
600g organic steak mince
*splash of red wine
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
generous pinch of sea salt
good helping of cracked black pepper
Heat a large frying pan on a low heat and add the fat.
Add the onions coat in the fat and continue to cook on a low heat (this is the secret), it may take a good 45 minutes but stir every 10 minutes or so until the onions are translucent and sticky. About 20 minutes in once the onions have already started to cook through add the garlic. Cook for a further 5 minutes on the low heat.
Turn up the pan to a medium heat and add the half pouch of beef broth and the wine. This should start to boil in the pan and reduce a little.
After the broth and wine has reduced by around half (around 5 minutes in a wide based frying pan) decant the entire contents into a slow cooker or a large saucepan.
In the frying pan add a little more fat heat it up on a medium heat and then add the mince and tomato paste, season with a little salt and pepper. Now fry the mince coated in tomato paste, stirring regularly until its mostly brown and the paste starts to get a little sticky, again decant into the slow cooker/pan and turn it on to the lowest setting.
Now add the tomatoes both tinned and fresh, herbs and season a little.
Give it a thorough stir and put the lid on.
Now make sure the heat is on it's very lowest setting and that the area is cleared and safe. Stir occasionally but honestly, just leave it to do its thing. The end result should be a dark red sauce with very little residual liquid. After many tests the optimal cooking time is between 4-5 hours for the best flavour.
Its obviously perfect and traditional with pasta; my favourite is tagliatelle. Always use a little pasta water and heat and stir the pasta and sauce in a hot pan so that the pasta is fully coated before serving. I always think its best garnished with fresh basil and a generous amount of olive oil. If you're off gluten there are some fantastic organic gluten free pastas available.If you're off carbs entirely it also works brilliantly served in lettuce leaves like a taco with sliced avocado.
It'll last about 5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer. It also tastes even better reheated. Something to do with science. Don't ask me why!