Posts Tagged ‘Bolognese’

Nigel's Bolognese

We love cookbooks that divide recipes up by the month of year. You can pick them off the shelf and get some instant inspiration that suits the weather conditions and what’s available. This is how we came to make this spaghetti bolognese, from Nigel Slater’s original Kitchen Diaries, on a cold night in January. We don’t usually add mushrooms to our Bolognese but they were really good here. Serve with some sort of long pasta (or penne if that’s what you’ve got) and loads of Parmesan.

Wine suggestion: we really enjoyed Michele Biancardi’s Ponteviro Primitivo from Puglia with this: wonderfully fresh and with a herbal spice as opposed to jam which appeals to our tastes.

A really good spaghetti Bolognese – serves 4

  • 50g butter
  • 70g cubed pancetta
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 large flat mushrooms (about 100g), finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400g beef mince
  • 200ml passata
  • 200ml red wine
  • 200ml stock
  • a nutmeg
  • 200ml full-cream milk or cream
  • spaghetti or tagliatelle (to serve)
  • grated Parmesan (to serve)

Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan, then stir in the pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften, then add the carrots and celery and continue to cook. When they have softened a bit, add the mushrooms, tuck in the bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat, stirring now and then.

Turn the heat up and add the meat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Leave to cook for 3-4 minutes until the bottom starts to brown, the stir again and leave to colour.

When the meat is well browned, add the tomatoes, red wine, stock, a grating of the nutmeg and some salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a bare bubble. Partially cover with a lid and leave to cook for 60-90 minutes, stirring now and then. Add a bit of extra liquid if it looks dry at any point.

Gradually add the milk/cream, then continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Season to taste and serve with the pasta and Parmesan.

(Original recipe from


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Ultimate Bolognese

We don’t keep much food in the freezer – peas, broad beans and ice cubes mainly. But at this time of year we like to cook bigger quantities of bolognese, chilli & casseroles so there’s always something warming available for the end of the week, when ingredients are running low. This version by Barney Desmazery is not traditional but absolutely flavour-packed and we loved finishing the pasta in the sauce which really brings it all together.

Wine Suggestion: Bolognese and other tomato based ragú worked really well with Sangiovese. Whether you choose a favourite Brunello, like we did, a Chianti, or a non-Italian version the acidity and tannins help with the richness and flavours.

Pasta Bolognese – serves 8 

  • 400g beef mince
  • 400g Italian sausages, skinned and crumbled
  • 200g smoked pancetta
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • small bunch fresh basil, small leaves picked and reserved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • handful dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • ½  tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 4 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml white wine
  • 100g Parmesan, grated, rind removed and reserved
  • pasta, to serve

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and crumble in the mince and sausage meat. Cook the mince for a good 30 minutes – it will release a lot of liquid which will evaporate and eventually it will fry in its own fat. If the pan looks a bit dry, drizzle in more olive oil. Towards the end, keep stirring the mince until it starts to crisp and brown.

Heat the oven to 140C/120C/Gas 2.

While the mince is browning, heat another splash of oil in a casserole dish and fry the pancetta for about 5 minutes or until it starts to brown and release its fat, then add the vegetables and herbs and finely crumble over the dried porcini. Cook gently for 5 minutes until soft and starting to brown. Sprinkle over the sugar, then stir in the tomato purée and splash in the fish sauce and vinegar. Simmer down until thickened, then stir through the meat and pour in the milk and tomatoes. Rinse out the tomato tins with the wine and stir into the pan. Season, then nestle in the Parmesan rind. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours.

When cooked, tip as many portions of the Bolognese as you need into a sauté pan. Cook the pasta until very al dente, then add to the bolognese sauce with a bit of the water and finish cooking in the sauce for 2 minutes. Stir through the Parmesan and a drizzle more olive oil.

Serve the pasta bolognese in bowls with basil and Parmesan.

(Original recipe by Barney Desmazery in BBC Good Food Magazine, September 2017.)

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Rick Stein’s Venetian Bolognese Ragú

We ♥ Pasta!

Wine Suggestion: We often advise to serve food with wine from the same region as they tend to naturally complement each other. This is never more the case than with Italian reds and tomato-based sauces. Italian red wines, such as Sangiovese, are high in acidity and are a perfect match for acidic tomato sauce; so find a good Sangiovese as you’ll need one for this recipe anyway – and it would be plain wrong not to drink the rest.

Ragù Bolognese – serves 6-8 

  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 300g beef mince
  • 300g pork mince
  • 100g lean smoked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15 turns black pepper
  • 100ml Sangiovese wine
  • 60ml water
  • 500ml passata
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • cooked tagliatelle & freshly grated Parmesan to serve

In a heavy-based saucepan, fry the celery, carrots and onion in the olive oil for about 10 minutes.

Add the beef, pork and bacon and brown. Season with the salt and pepper, then add the wine, water, passata, tomato puree and rosemary. Cook, covered, over a low heat for about 2 hours.

Serve with the cooked pasta and freshly grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Venice to Istanbul, Penguin, 2015.)

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This is our go-to recipe when we want a Bolognese ragú to go with pasta like penne (as opposed to in a lasagne). We’ve done many variations over the years and even though this isn’t entirely traditional it’s ease and relative speed, alongside a great flavour, mean that we make this more often than any other.

Pasta Bolognese – serves 6

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 100g pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 100ml red wine
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 250ml milk
  • salt and black pepper
  • 400g dried pasta
  • Grated Parmesan to serve

Cook the onion, carrot, celery and pancetta in the oil and butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute before turning up the heat and adding the mince and thyme.

Brown the meat for a few minutes until it loses its raw appearance, then add the wine. Stir and reduce for a few minutes.

Add the other ingredients and season well. Bring to the boil, then simmer for an hour.

Cook the pasta according to the pack and toss with the hot sauce and parmesan.

(Original recipe by Jane Baxter in The Guardian, 31st May 2014.)

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Ragu alla Bolognese

We love Anna Del Conte’s Gastronomy of Italy which is where we found this excellent Bolognese sauce.

Ragù alla Bolognese – to serve 4

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g unsmoked pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, very finely chopped
  • 1 small celery stalk, very finely chopped
  • 350g lean braising steak, minced
  • 5 tbsp red wine
  • 1½ tbsp tomato purée
  • 100ml hot meat stock
  • 5 tbsp milk

Heat the butter and olive oil with the pancetta in a deep, heavy-based saucepan. Fry gently for a few minutes and then add the chopped vegetables. Keep frying over a medium heat until the vegetables are soft.

Add the mince and cook until it is sealed, breaking any lumps up with a spoon. Pour over the red wine and boil briskly for a few minutes until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Dilute the tomato paste with the stock and add to the pan. Season well and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, bring the milk to simmering point in a small pan.

Pour the milk over the meat and stir well. Cook, uncovered, over the lowest heat for at least 2 hours. You don’t want the ragù to boil, but just break a few bubbles on the surface. Stir now and then as it cooks and adjust the seasoning at the end. Serve with tagliatelle.

Wine Suggestion: You need something red with high acidity. Try something Sangiovese-based from Italy and you won’t go far wrong.

(Original recipe from Anna Del Conté’s Gastronomy of Italy, Pavillon, 2001.)

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Italians don’t serve Bolognese with spaghetti or make a really runny tomato sauce like us Irish, so we went to our Italian experts for guidance: Giorgio Locatteli came up trumps. Jono also got to practice his new pasta trick which he’s somewhat obsessed with.

Ragù alla bolognese – serves 8 generously (but don’t divide the recipe, just make the lot and freeze it in small tubs -ready meals!)

  • 2 kg of minced beef neck (you may need to order this – chump will do if you can’t get it)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • a large sprig of rosemary and one of sage, tied together
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a bottle of red wine
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 litre of tomato passata
Take the meat out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature, spread  it out on a tray. This will make it sear rather than boil when you put it in the pan.
Heat the oil in a wide bottomed saucepan and add vegetables, herbs and whole garlic cloves and sweat over a high heat for 5-8 minutes without colouring – you need to keep stirring.
Season the meat with salt and pepper and add it to the vegetables making sure it covers the base of the saucepan. Don’t touch it for 5-6 minutes so it seals underneath and heats through. Careful your vegetables don’t burn – you can add a bit more oil if you need to.
Stir the meat and veg every few minutes for about 10-12 minutes until it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Now add the wine and let it reduce to almost nothing. Add the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes – keep stirring.
Add the passata with one litre of water, bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for an hour and a half. Add a bit of water now and again if necessary, until you have a thick sauce. (You could also cook it in the oven at 120C if you prefer).
When you’re ready to serve, heat the ragù, cook your pasta (preferably pappardelle, tagliatelle, or short pasta) and drain, reserving the cooking water. Add the pasta to the ragu and toss well – add some cooking water if you need to loosen the sauce a bit.
Serve with freshly grated pecorino.
(Original recipe from Giorgio Locatelli’s ‘Made in Italy: Food & Stories’)

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