Now, before you start getting argumentative about whether or not I should be using mushrooms in my bolognese, let’s agree that there isn’t actually such a thing as “authentic” bolognese.
Sometime in the 18th century, Italian chef Pellegrino Artusi first documented a meat sauce – a ragú – that somewhat resembled the bolognese that we know and love today. But Artusi’s was made with veal, onion, carrot and pancetta – not a drop of wine in sight. Over time, the recipe evolved into the familiar sauce we know today, typically paired with spaghetti, but the overall consensus is that there can never be a consensus.
Still, I think we can all agree that a good bolognese should have three things: a good meat-to-sauce ratio; a rich, savoury depth; and a generous serving of parmesan sprinkled on top.
Over the years, I think I’ve perfected that formula. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
The Best Bolognese Sauce
- 500g minced beef, 18% fat
- 500g minced pork
- Olive oil
- 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 handful mushrooms, diced finely
- 2 cloves roasted garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 generous squeeze tomato puree
- 1 glass red wine
- 2 x 400g can crushed tomatoes in tomato juice
- 1 splash whole milk
- 10 splashes Worcestershire sauce
- Parmesan, grated to serve
- Parsley, to serve
Step 1: Cook the Mince
Fry off the mince in a deep saucepan with a little olive oil and a square of butter until browned. Add cinnamon while cooking. Transfer to a bowl, careful not to carry over the excess grease. Dispose of grease.
Step 2: Prepare Your Mirepoix (The Base of Your Sauce)
Add the onion, celery, carrot, and mushrooms to the same pan and cook until the onions have just started to brown. Add the crushed garlic and oregano.
Step 3: Reduce
Create a small crater in the centre of the pan, where you will add the tomato puree. Let sauté for a minute before mixing the puree in with the vegetables. Add the red wine and stir to well. Allow the wine to reduce for a few minutes – this will add a greater depth of flavour to your sauce. Add the rest of your ingredients, along with the fried mince, and stir well. You may need to add some water at this step, to make sure the meat is covered.
Step 4: Simmer*
Bring to a boil, and then reduce your heat to the lowest setting and let the sauce simmer for at least three hours. Be sure to check on this regularly – if the sauce has reduced too much, add a bit of water. However the sauce should not be too runny.
Step 5: Enjoy (With a Glass of Wine)
Serve with spaghetti, topped with the bolognese, followed by a generous grating of fresh parmesan and parsley.
*You can add a sprig of thyme to the pot while simmering for a different flavour.