- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion, finely chopped (brown, yellow or white)
- 1 lb / 500g ground beef (mince) OR half pork, half beef (Note 1)
- ½ cup (125 ml) dry red wine (or sub with water or beef broth/stock)
- 2 beef bouillon cubes, crumbled (Note 2)
- 28oz / 800g can crushed tomato (or tomato passata)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste / puree (Note 3)
- 2 – 3 tsp sugar (any – I use white) (Note 4)
- 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ¼ tsp dried thyme or ½ tsp dried oregano)
- Salt and pepper
- 400g / 13 oz spaghetti
- Parmesan cheese
- Parsley, finely chopped
- Heat oil in a large pot or deep skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 5 minutes or until light golden and softened.
- Turn heat up to high and add beef. Cook, breaking it up as your go, until browned.
- Add red wine. Bring to simmer and cook for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot, until the alcohol smell is gone.
- Add remaining ingredients except salt and pepper. Stir, bring to a simmer then turn down to medium so it bubbles gently. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes (no lid), adding water if the sauce gets too thick for your taste. Stir occasionally.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste right at the end.
- Spaghetti (Note 6)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook per packet directions MINUS 1 minute.
- Scoop out a mug of pasta cooking water and set aside, then drain the pasta.
- Add pasta into the bolognese sauce with about ½ cup (125 ml) of reserved pasta water over medium heat. Toss gently for 1½ – 2 minutes, or until the spaghetti turns red and the sauce thickens.
- Divide between bowls. Garnish with parmesan and parsley if desired.
- Some traditional slow cooked Bolognese Sauce are made with a mixture of beef and pork mince. Beef for flavour, pork for juiciness. I typically do not use this for midweek.
- I prefer beef bouillon cubes rather than beef stock/broth because it has a more intense flavour and also broth makes the sauce watery and takes longer to reduce. I use Oxo Beef Cubes (Woolies & Coles).
- Tomato paste / puree – the concentrated tomato paste that comes in jars or tubes.
- The amount of sugar required will depend on how sweet / sour the tomatoes and tomato paste is. Typically, the better the quality, the less sour they are so the less sugar you will need. Go by taste!
- Here are some ideas for ways to take this up a notch, if you are so inclined!
– Add finely chopped bacon (smokey is the ultimate!) or pancetta, cook with the onion
– 1 tbsp soy sauce (my mother did this, I sometimes do! I’ve seen it in some chef recipes)
– Fresh or dried red chilli
– Finely chop 1 carrot + celery and saute that with the onion to make a softrito
– Mix of pork and beef (per Note 1)
– Bolognese gets better the longer it is cooked, and it’s even better the next day. A traditional Italian Bolognese Ragu is cooked for around 2 hours!
- This method of cooking the cooked spaghetti in the sauce is the proper way to cook pasta – the real restaurant and Italian way. During this step, the sauce emulsifies (fat in Bolognese sauce reacts with starchy pasta water = thickens sauce so it clings to the pasta = no watery sauce at bottom of pasta bowl!). This step makes all the difference, turning a good pasta into a GREAT one!
- If you are not using all the Bolognese in one go, divide the sauce first before adding the pasta into the sauce. Pasta is always best made fresh.
- If you double the recipe (and who wouldn’t want to? :) ), then brown the beef in 2 batches. If you try to cook it in one batch, you will end up stewing it rather than browning!
- SLOW COOKER: This is really fantastic made in a slow cooker! The meat becomes so tender and the sauce has incredible flavour. Transfer it into the slow cooker at step 4 and cook for low for 6 hours.
- Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.