When I was a young kid, probably somewhere between the ages of 10-13, I was pretty ill with some sort of bug, and my Dad, who worked from home wanted to know what I might like to eat. For some reason, I felt being ill gave me carte blanche in terms of requests, and I said spaghetti bolognese. My Dad, bless him, made it for me at 10:30am on a Tuesday. That's what this dish is for me, what I want most when I need something comforting, something to make you feel better. It's the dish that I'm most likely to ask for when I'm feeling blah.
A real bolognese sauce isn't light on ingredients, but the blend of them together is pretty imperative to making something that feels deeply, densely flavorful. The one that most people underestimate is the soffrito, the sauteed carrot, celery and onion. Soffrito is the basis of a lot of sauces. It's sort of an aromatic background noise, creating a dense, almost sweet foundation for your bolognese. The longer you can sweat the soffrito the better. You want the vegetables to almost melt into one another, which helps the bolognese sauce thicken later. I definitely recommend either a linguine or a parpardelle noodle to go with this sauce. The wider noodles soak up the sauce and catch all the amazing bits
While this dish is a bit intensive, if you need to feed a crowd, it's actually a huge return for little work. You get a complete meal that will rarely leave people feeling hungry. It's been my go to meal when you're coming back from a cold day on the mountain or a day of Winter surfing in Cornwall.
- 6 rashers higher-welfare dry-cured smoked streaky bacon , sliced 1cm thick
- 2 sprigs of fresh organano , leaves picked and finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic , peeled and finely sliced
- 1 onion , peeled and finely chopped
- 2 carrots, diced finely
- 2 stalks of celery, diced finely
- 500 g quality British beef mince
- 200 ml red wine
- 200 ml full fat milk
- 2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
- 1 can, tomato paste
- 500 g dried spaghetti, linguini, or pappardelle
- Parmesan cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
Start as you should always start, by sautéing the meat in your pan. Start with the bacon, use streaky bacon as it has a lot more fat on it. Brown until crispy. Remove it from the pan and add the beef mince, and cook until there is a crust on the beef. Remove and set on a plate with the bacon.
Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté over low heat for at least 30 minutes. Add the oregano, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir. Add the wine and milk and a bit of water. Add another generous pinch of salt, lots of fresh ground pepper, Bring to a boil for five minutes and then lower the heat to the lowest setting, cover with a heavy lid and let simmer for at least one hour and as many as four if you have the patience.
In the last 40 minutes bring a pan of heavily salted water to a boil. When it's fully boiling, toss in your pasta. Cook until just barely finished, and then toss with a ladleful of the sauce. Twirl onto a plate and then add another ladleful of sauce. Top with a heavy flurry of finely grated parmesan or other salty, hard cheese.
I suggest making huge amounts of this sauce because it gets better the next day and most Italian nonnas would say it's actually best on the third day.