Somehow, I’ve ended up writing the entire recipe for my own way of making bolognese. Out of boredom? Possibly. I’ve been cooking this for years now and I think I’ve finally got the recipe to a tee. And here it is. It is a winner, trust me. And very easy.
Serve with either spaghetti, or pasta shells.
A tip – if there is some left over, put the sauce into a tupperware box, or even a dish with cling film over it, and put in the freezer for another day. Be sure to defrost it thoroughly when you want to eat it. Defrosting will take several hours.
1 tablespoon of oil (sunflower, vegetable or olive)
500g minced beef (or a standard pack)
2 carrots, grated
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed (or chopped)
1 Oxo cube
1 beef stockpot
Oregano (a sprinkle)
Mixed herbs (a sprinkle)
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon tomato puree
350g jar of Napolina Bolognese sauce
Napolina tomato pasata (to your preferred consistency)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and set a shelf to be in the centre of the oven. While the oven is heating, prepare the onions, garlic and carrot. I find it is best to grate the carrot first as that takes the most amount of time. Next, heat a tablespoon of oil (sunflower, vegetable or olive) into a frying pan on a medium heat.
While the oil is warming, coarsely chop two onions. As soon as the oil becomes hot (not smoking, just hot) put the onions into the pan and fry until soft. This will take 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, top and tail 3 cloves of garlic and peel the skin off. If you have a garlic crusher, place the garlic to one side and wait until you need it. If not, finely chop the garlic and leave to one side.
Once the onions are soft, add the minced beef. Break up the mince to avoid clumps of mince and keep stirring it around the pan until it becomes grey/brown in colour. This will take, at the most, 15 minutes.
After the browning of the meat, there may be excess fat in the pan. Place a bowl into your sink and put a colander over the bowl. Place the contents of the pan into the colander and the fat will drain off. Stir the mince around the colander and then put the mince back into the pan and back onto the heat.
To give the mince, and the Bolognese, a meatier flavour, crumble in an OXO cube over the mince and stir. Next, make a space in the centre of the pan and drop in a beef stockpot. Allow the stockpot to melt, which will take 2-5 minutes, and as soon as it has melted stir it into the mince.
Now it is time to add the other ingredients. To the mince, add the grated carrots. This gives the Bolognese an extra dimension. Stir in, which allows the carrot to amalgamate with the beef. Next, add the crushed garlic. 3 cloves of garlic is enough. Although garlic can lose its flavour, more than 3 cloves (from experience, trust me!) is too much.
What gives a Bolognese its flavour is the herbs that go in. Your kitchen will start to smell like an Italian kitchen which is an evocative smell. First, sprinkle some oregano onto the mince and then the same with mixed herbs. Don’t overdo it with the herbs as the sauce will be too strong. Just enough to barely cover the surface. Of course, you can experiment with different herbs. Basil goes well with tomato based sauces but I find it too overpowering. After the herbs, add salt and pepper.
The mince is now ready for tomato – a trademark of a Bolognese. But first, add a tablespoon (or as much as you can get out of a tube as a tubes of puree quickly shrink) of tomato puree and stir. This enriches the sauce. I find that THE BEST tomato sauce for a Bolognese is Napolina Bolognese sauce. I’ve tried lots of sauces and I’ve found this one to have the best flavour. Empty the contents of the jar into the pan and stir into the mince. A little tip – there may be a little bit of sauce at the bottom of the jar. Put a little bit of water in the jar, put the lid on and shake. The jar will (sort of) be clean and then put into the pan and stir.
After this, open the pasata and put in as much as you like. I find that the Napolina sauce alone is far too thick. The pasata gives the sauce extra tomato flavour and makes it moreish. Also, don’t be afraid of the sauce appearing too liquidy. The pasata will cook out in the oven. Once the sauce is the consistency you like, let the sauce bubble which should take 5-10 minutes. As soon as it bubbles have a taste. Have a taste?! Is it not cooked? Of course it is cooked, everything is cooked. Having a taste of the sauce will decide if you need any more salt or pepper to improve the taste.
The Bolognese sauce is now ready to be put into an oven proof dish that has a lid on. It is best to use a ladle in putting the sauce into the dish. Ladle the sauce into the dish and place into the preheated oven on the centre shelf. Allow the sauce to heat and cook out for 30-40 minutes. Not only does this cook the excess moisture out from the Napolina Bolognese sauce and pasata, it makes the sauce piping hot.