Tuesday Night Bolognese
You know what I love? When friends serve spaghetti bolognese at a dinner party. It's such an unexpected, cool move, like, "Welcome to our home, to our table and our real life!" It's Tuesday night meal on a Saturday, with fancy plates and the good wine glasses.
Though I should say, the sauce my friends serve is a little more jazzy than the bolognese you might remember from your childhood. These folks are swish and slow cook things like it's nobody's business. There's a richness to their recipes that is completely swoon-worthy, and one I cannot replicate. Yes, my bolognese is less fancy, though it has a few elements that make it "more than mince". Over the years I've taken tips from my mum, friends and chefs I admire, adapting various ingredients and methods to create a dish that Ben and I favour. It's rather heavy on the tomato (purely as a means of getting more serves out of the dish), and the herbs I use change seasonally. Our recipe is not overly complex in its layers of flavours, nor is it super rich. It's more everyday, more Tuesday than Saturday night bolognese. But it's comforting and wholesome and sits atop a pile of pasta, and that, folks, is everything I want right now.
We made a big batch recently to stock out freezer with ready meals on the days Ben is home late from work and I cannot bring myself to leave the couch after being milked all day long. The stand-alone freezer I bought myself for an early birthday present has proved wonderfully useful. It's full of soup and stews from family, muffins from friends, loaves of bread from Dad, four tubs of Zebra Dream ice-cream from IGA when it was on sale, an apple pie leftover from my baby shower and now, three double-serves of spaghetti bolognese. I wanted to share the recipe because I always love to see how others make their bolognese, which mince they use and what kind of wine, red or white? I hope it inspires you to cook a batch* and sit down to a plate of pasta. It'll be like I'm sending you a hug via the internet. A hug for all your sweet words about our baby and all the love you've shown us as we dive into this new phase of life. Thank you, folks x
Our Spaghetti Bolognese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
90g thick-cut quality pancetta, cut into 0.5cm cubes
2 large sticks celery, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
1/3 cup red wine (use a nice wine)
1kg grass-fed beef mince
500g free-range pork mince
1/3 cup milk
700g quality passata
2 x 400g tinned crushed or diced tomatoes**
3 dried bay leaves
1 large star anise***
A good pinch of dried oregano****
A handful of fresh basil (or parsley. or both)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
* This post was sponsored by ASKO. Obviously, all opinions are my own. I just appreciate that they let me write about whatever I was cooking and alert you to their great products! If you are in the market for a new cooktop, ASKO have a wide range available here. I'd take the HG 1774 cooktop. Actually, I'll just take this whole kitchen - right?! Thank you, team ASKO!
**** I use dried oregano from good delis, the one on the stalk from Greece or Italy that I find to be more delicate and true in flavour. If using other dried oregano add a bit less.
1. Heat the oil over low-medium heat in a very large, heavy based saucepan. When hot, add the onions with a small pinch of sea salt and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft. Lower the heat as needed to avoid over-browning and use a wooden spoon to stir.
2. Add the pancetta cubes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring every now and then, allowing the fat to render and the pancetta to brown.
3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant.
4. Add the carrot and celery and cook until the vegetables are softening (a few minutes). Turn up the heat a little as needed.
5. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, allowing it to evaporate.
6. Add the meat and turn the heat up high. Break up the meat with the wooden spoon until the meat is browned.
7. Add the milk and stir to incorporate before adding the passatta, tinned tomatoes, bay leaf, star anise, oregano and basil.
8. When bubbling turn the heat down to the lowest heat and put the lid on. Cook for 3-4 hours. If it's getting a bit dry, add some stock or more tomatoes, though I never have to. Be sure to leave the lid on! It's even better the next day, so if you can, cook it a day ahead.