My bolognese post

My bolognese post has been a long time coming. Many months, in fact. I was just waiting to create the perfect recipe, the most divine concoction of ingredients, the piece de resistance de bolognese. Then I realised that just wasn’t going to happen.

You see, every time I cook bolognese, I make it differently. It’s not because I don’t remember the recipe – rather, I want something different from it. Sometimes I want a really rich sauce; at other times, a sophisticated ragu with subtle flavours that are only recognised after several tastes.

There is one thing that remains the same through every permutation: regardless of the end product, bolognese is always comfort food to me.

Here are a couple of variations to try, followed by a few alternative serving suggestions. Both give 4+ servings. Note that traditional bolognese has a few standard elements to it (eg. use more than one minced meat (such as beef & pancetta); always use celery & carrot as aromatics) and I am not always very traditional in my application.

 

Recipe #47: Bolognese No. 1.
Rich & robust.
Recipe #48: Bolognese No. 2.
My version of a sophisticated ragu.
You will need:
► 2 tbsp good olive oil
► 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
► 1 large onion, finely diced
► 5 anchovies
► 6-8 kalamata olives, freshly pitted and roughly chopped
► 1 heaped tsp capers, roughly chopped
► 500g minced meat [you can use one or several types of meat]
► 2 tbsp raw or brown sugar
► ½ cup red wine
► 500g fresh tomatoes, skins removed then chopped [or you could use a large tin of diced Italian tomatoes]
► 5oomL chicken or vegetable stock [this is instead of the carrot & celery]
► 1 jar tomato puree
► 2+ tbsp tomato paste (if needed)
► 1 handful flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped

Start by heating the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until just translucent, then introduce the anchovies, capers and olives. Stir regularly. Once the anchovies have completely dissolved, add the meat, breaking it up as it cooks. It should take a little while for the meat to brown and most of the juices to evaporate; when they do, sprinkle over the sugar then stir it through. Allow the sugar to caramelise then add the red wine. Once this has reduced to a thick coating, add the tomatoes then, once they become thick, add the stock [are you seeing a pattern emerging here…?].

Finally, add the tomato puree – after the sauce has reduced to a thick texture. The tomato paste is there as an option if you can’t be bothered waiting for the sauce to thicken…but it should only be used if you don’t have the time to wait for your creation to unfold naturally.

Stir through the parsley when the sauce is cooked and the heat is off – that way it retains its colour and flavour. Add salt & pepper to taste.

You will need:
► 2 tbsp good olive oil
► 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
► 1 large onion, finely diced
► 5 cloves, crushed to a powder
► 1 small stick cinnamon, crushed almost to a powder
► 1 small carrot, finely diced
► 1 large stick celery (incl. leaves), finely diced
► 500g minced meat [you can use one or several types of meat]
► 3 bay leaves [the freshest you can get]
► 2 tbsp raw or brown sugar
► ½ cup white wine [last time I used some leftover viognier]
► 500g fresh tomatoes, skins removed then chopped [or you could use a large tin of diced Italian tomatoes]
► 1 jar tomato puree
► several gratings of fresh nutmeg

Start by heating the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until just translucent, then add the cinnamon and cloves. Once they start to smell awesome, add the celery and carrot. Cook covered for a few minutes, then add the meat, breaking it up as it cooks. It should take a little while for the meat to brown and most of the juices to evaporate; when they do, sprinkle over the sugar then stir it through. Allow the sugar to caramelise then add the wine and bay leaves. Once this has reduced to a thick coating, add the tomatoes then, once they become thick, add the tomato puree. After the sauce has reduced to a thick texture, stir through the nutmeg. The sauce has only a few more minutes left to cook. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Serving suggestions. Aside from bolognese sauce on spaghetti, with lashings of parmesan (and spaghetti bolognese is amazing as it is!), you could eat it:

  • as a soup;
  • in a lasagna – granted, this suggestion is a little obvious…;
  • as the base sauce for a pizza;
  • pureed, as a base for many meat and vegetable dishes – eg. as a flavour acccent; and
  • as the filling in a pasta – this may sound weird, but I can assure you it is fabulous.

About 3 months ago now, I made agnolotti and tortellini for my gorgeous friend M using leftover (and still partly frozen) bolognese as the filling. I didn’t really expect it to turn out, so I made and served it in two batches that we could eat while doing computery-type things [see my Pastalicious post for the pasta recipe and agnolotti method].

the tortellini version

I served the pasta parcels with a drizzle of burnt butter & nutmeg sauce and shaved pecorino. The end result was so deliciously awesome that: (1) I immediately wished I had set the table for dinner; and (2) I would definitely make it again.

Little high-flavour bursts of rich bolognese, packaged in a subtle casing with feathery texture...it kind of doesn't make sense when I say it like that, yet it also makes perfect sense. Think about it.

How do you like your bolognese?

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. E says:

    H, is it even possible, for slackers like moi, to have a bolognese receipt #3 with say maybe not more than 5 ingredients on the list before my eyes glaze over with fear and trepidation????!!!!

  2. Hannah says:

    You make me laugh, E! There may be many ingredients in each variation – but check out the method. Too easy. Seriously.

    H 🙂

  3. Steve says:

    Bolognese is one of my favourite things; nothing makes me feel better than a warm tomato and garlic scent in the air. I can't wait to try your "Rich & robust" recipe, it sounds divine – although I may have to enlist the supervision of my best friend… success will embolden our friendship, and not-so-success will mean I'm not alone when I order the Pizza Of Shame ^_^

  4. The Chansburys says:

    I guess this means I cannot count on you to make a 'Bolognese for Dummies' book huh?! xoxo

  5. Hannah says:

    Steve, I love the idea that you have a fallback a la Pizza of Shame, but I hope it doesn't come to that. Let me know how your "rich & robust" turns out!

    E, I actually compiled a superbasic version in this very comment, then I deleted it. It's not my finest work – will send it to you off-blog in an unmarked brown paper bag.

    H 🙂

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