This is one of my all time favorites. It’s a true classic and probably my favorite food when I was a kid. I still remember how I couldn’t wait to get home after school, knowing that my mother was preparing bolognese sauce. My favorite part was (and probably still is) the browning of the meat together with the onions. I could drive my mother crazy, asking every two minutes if I could have a piece of meat,”to taste and make sure everything was alright”.
My mother had her own recipe, slightly different from this one. But at that time, I didn’t care about recipes so much as I did about the final result in my plate. So I never got the opportunity to write her recipe down and was left with creating my own. For most recipes I ever “created”, I looked for some basic inspiration in cookbooks or on the internet first. But for this sauce, I just used my instincts (except for the little twist with the milk that I found somewhere on the web – can’t remember where, though) and tweaked and twisted it a bit every time I made it until I got the perfect sauce for my taste buds.
I realise this might not be the exact original recipe or method for bolognese sauce, they way it would be made in Italy. For example, the cooking time would be much longer, but I usually don’t have time to leave it to simmer for 3 or 4 hours. I’m sure the long cooking process adds additional flavor to the sauce, but I find this recipe to be very tasty as well and convenient for a rather quick weeknight dinner (or an indulgent weekend dinner in front of the television)
I use this sauce to make lasagna as well, another one of my favorite classics. Will post the recipe soon as well.
Ingredients (for 4 people):
500g long-shaped pasta (Linguine are my favorite)
400g minced meat (beef works fine but I prefer a mix of beef, pork and veal as it adds more flavor)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (when I’m very lazy, I add them unpeeled and unseeded, which works fine as well if you don’t mind the skin)
1 can (400g) of diced tomatoes
200ml stock (veggie or beef, whatever you like)
2 bay leaves
mixed (preferably fresh) herbs, like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper
In a large pan, heat some olive oil over high heat. Add the minced meat and let it brown, stirring frequently. If your pan isn’t large enough, proceed in several batches as it is important that your meat really browns. And don’t be afraid to let it stick to the bottom of your pan a bit! When the meat is almost done, lower the heat and add the onion and garlic and continue cooking for 3 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Turn the heat back up and add the milk to your pan to deglaze. Scrape your pan with a wooden spoon in order to detach all the browned bits that add a lot of flavor to your sauce. At the end of the process, your milk will be brownish and reduced more or less by half.
Now add the stock and fresh tomatoes and let simmer for 5 minutes on medium heat. Then toss in the canned tomatoes, the bay leaves and half of the chopped herbs (I like to keep some for later). Stir well to make sure everything is combined. Then cover and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring from time to time.
In the meantime, cook your pasta in salted water until al dente. You can set a kitchen timer if you don’t want to miss the al dente moment. Or you can adopt my method: tasting frequently to make sure you get them out of the water in time (this is a bit dangerous as I quite often burn my fingers and my tongue in the process). When the pasta is done, drain, then transfer back to the pot, add a drizzle of olive oil to avoid the pasta sticking together. Cover and set aside (not back on the heat!).
Check on your sauce and taste. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. You can add some chili flakes as well if you like it hot. Add the remaining chopped herbs and taste again. Does it have the right flavor? If so, go fishing for the bay leaves and toss away. Serve the pasta in a bowl and top with a generous amount of sauce and grated cheese. I prefer parmesan or/and emmenthal.
Sometimes, I add 1 large carrot and a celery stalk, finely chopped, together with the onion and garlic. This way, you add some veggie vitamins and add some additional (though very discreet) flavor.
Note on the pictures:
You might notice that the pictures look slightly different this time. Since this meal has quite a nostalgic feeling for me, I wanted to give the pictures a little retro touch. I used this great new app that I just got and love to play around with.