Beautiful Bolognese

Saturday morning. With the weekend ahead, I sip on my morning cup of tea contemplating what to cook for dinner.

I love the weekends and being able to take my time in the kitchen, planning and cooking those recipes which take a little extra time. Mulling over the ingredients I have to hand, I settle on a Spaghetti Bolognese.

For many of us (and I include myself here), Spaghetti Bolognese has become that quick and easy to prepare, go to meal for weekday work nights where some ground beef is thrown together with a jar of pasta sauce and hey presto. Now I am not knocking this as there are some good bottled sauces out there but, honestly, it’s not REAL Bolognese is it?

Today though, I have time. Time to create a truly delicious Bolognese sauce and so I enlist the help of my trusty slow cooker for a beautiful, slow cooked, rich result.

So, if you have the time, I have the recipe:

Spaghetti Bolognese

Serves 6 to 8

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 large Brown Onion, finely chopped

1 large Carrot, finely chopped

2 Celery Stalks, finely chopped

3-4 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

200gm Tomato Paste

1kg Ground Beef (or a mixture of Beef and Pork)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano 

1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg

1 cup Red Wine

1 can of Diced Tomatoes

250ml Beef Stock

Dash of Balsamic Vinegar – optional

1 Bay Leaf

To serve: Spaghetti or other pasta of your choice, cooked; Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and cook until the onion is translucent and the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the tomato paste, and cook for another 30 seconds. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker.

Add the beef to the frypan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cooking until it is browned. Stir in the thyme, oregano, and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the wine and simmer until reduced completely, about 7 minutes. Drain off any excess fat and add the tomatoes, beef stock and balsamic vinegar, if using, and bring to a simmer. Transfer the beef mixture to the slow cooker, mix with the vegetables and add the bay leaf.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours. The sauce should be rich and thick – add a little more stock if needed during cooking. If the sauce looks too thin near the end of the cooking time, remove the lid to allow any excess liquid to evaporate so it reduces.

Serve the sauce over pasta with grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

Enjoy with a good glass of red!

As I had made plenty, we enjoyed it again a couple of nights later and it was even more delicious as the flavours had further developed.

So next time you reach for that jar of pasta sauce maybe think about waiting until the weekend instead – when you have time……. Buon Appetito!

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