Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our Bolognese Sauce

I must preface this post by saying how important spaghetti bolognese has been to me throughout my life.  We had spaghetti almost every Sunday for linner (late lunch), while I was growing up.  We would come home from church and play the piano and boardgames while Dad made spaghetti. And we never grew sick of eating that same meal.  It remains a super-comfort food for me to this day, and no matter how I make it, it fails to deliver the same warm hug that was having a long-standing traditional linner made for you.  Having said all that, Haki and I have made a lot of bolognese sauces over the (almost 10) years we've been married, and we think we've come to what is our perfect bolognese recipe (taking into account what we regularly have in our cupboards -- including that we can go long seasons without paying for fresh tomatoes). We use this sauce with a range of pastas, including in our lasagna (with a cottage cheese layer in addition to the béchemel ones).


400-450 grams beef mince
1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 can crushed and sieved tomato
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 large Tablespoon cream cheese
1 Tablespoon chicken stock powder
2 teaspoons wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cracked pepper

  1. (Start the water for your pasta boiling.)
  2. Begin browning the mince in a large fry pan, breaking it into medium-sized clumps as you go (Haki doesn't like his mince too fine, but seriously prefers there to be some bite to each clump).
  3. Add the garlic and shallot to cook with the mince.
  4. When this mixture is lightly cooked, add grated carrot and mix well, cooking for 30 seconds or so.
  5. Add oregano and basil to the crushed and sieved tomato, stirring well, before adding to the fry pan with the remaining ingredients.
  6. (Your pasta would be going in around here.)
  7. Stir well and simmer for around 10 minutes.  (Your pasta should be strained before removing the sauce from the heat.)
Other Notes

  • We take "all dente" pretty seriously around here -- while we almost always use pre-made pasta, we like it to be cooked as well as it can be.  Removing a few pieces into the ready and waiting colander to bite and confirm readiness is a must around here.
  • We return our pasta to the pot it cooked in with some olive oil.
  • We top with grated parmesan.
  • I often add some fresh spinach under the sauce -- to add some more green and justify calling the result an entire meal.
  • We top fresh herbs when we have them.
  • Like many of our other meals, I sometimes replace half of the mince measure with boiled red lentils and extra beef/chicken stock powder.  The lentils are added with the carrot.

What always makes it into your bolognese?
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