Ragu alla Bolognese
Everyone has their own little twist on ragu alla Bolognese, most often referred to simply as Bolognaise Sauce, unless, of course, you’re vegetarian! And then I am sure they will have a perfectly lovely meat free version.
The Student Bolognese
Most students cook a Bolognese sauce at some point as it can be a very economical and filling meal. When I was a student, I remember packing mine full of mushrooms to pad it out. I’m pleased to say, the version I’m sharing with you today has evolved, hence I’m calling it ragu alla Bolognese, which sounds a little more refined. The version I now cook for my family has no trace of mushrooms!
I love to cook a large batch of ragu alla Bolognese and to use in various ways. You can make a good old spaghetti bolognese, lasagne or a quick and easy mid-week pasta bake. This recipe should yield at least four meals, one for dinner and three for the freezer.
Ragu alla Bolognese
Start by preparing all your ingredients. Chop the onions, celery and carrot and finely slither the garlic. What you see here is an Australian grass fed minced beef and Australian minced pork from our local butcher. Minced pork is added to give more flavour.
I like to add a dash of red wine to my ragu but this is optional, you can just use beef stock instead. I also prefer to use plum tomatoes over ready chopped tomatoes. They are cheaper than the chopped variety and I’m more than capbable of chopping my own tomatoes.
The addition of a firm textured chorizo is not a traditional Bolognese trait but my kids are addicted to chorizo and as it does add extra depth of flavour to the sauce. It would seem silly to omit. The chorizo I’m using here is an artisanal chorizo from The Cotswold Curer in the UK, but you can use any type.
Once everything is chopped and ready to go, add a splash of olive oil to a heavy based pan and saute the onions for a few minutes until translucent.
Add the finely chopped garlic and cook for a further minute. Now add the carrot and celery and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside and now start to brown the sliced chorizo. These will renter quite a bit of fat so you probably won’t require any extra oil at this stage. When this all done, remove and set aside along with the vegetables. Now add a splash more oil, if needed, and begin to brown your minced beef and pork. This is best done in batches unless you have a large enough pan.
Once all the mince is nicely browned return all the previously browned ingredients back to the pan.
Add the stock, the wine (if using), tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, chopped parsley and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Mix to combine and let simmer on a low heat for at least 2 hours.
Ragu is definitely a crowd pleaser, an ultimate comfort food that even the fussiest of children tend to easily wolf down without a whinge or a whine. So, sit back and enjoy your meal with a pleasant glass of red wine and delight in their messy faces as a mark of pure satisfaction and contentedness.
- 2-3 teaspoon Olive oil
- 1 Large Onion diced
- 3 cloves Garlic finely sliced
- 1 Celery finely chopped
- 1 Carrot finely chopped
- 1.2 kg Minced beef
- 300 g Minced pork
- 4 tins Plum Tomatoes do not break them up
- 3-4 tablespoons Tomato puree
- 50 ml Beef stock or a bit of both
- 50 ml Red Wine (optional you can increase beef stock if not using the wine)
- Salt & Pepper for seasoning
- Bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley freshly chopped
- 1-2 Sticks of chorizo (optional but we prefer it!)
Heat the oil In a large, thick, steel based pan,and fry the onion for 2-3 minutes.
Add the garlic and fry for a minute, stirring so it doesn't burn.
Add the finely chopped celery & carrot and cook for a for a further 10 minutes.
Remove vegetable from the heat and set aside (if your kids don't even like the sight of finely chopped vegetable then at this stage you can choose to puree the veg to a fine paste).
Heat some more oil in the pan and brown the sliced chorizo (if using). Remove from pan and set aside.
Now brown the minced beef & pork in the chorizo infused pan, you may have to do this in batches unless you have an industrial size pan. I use a large stock pot.
Once the meat has all been browned return the previously cooked vegetable back to the pan and add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, beef stock and / or wine, followed by the chopped parsley.
Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper, give a good stir, and let simmer for 1-2 hours on a very low heat.
I portion off into tupperware boxes or zip lock bags with an equal amount in each and it should yields a good 4 portions. That is enough to feed 2 adults and 4 kids for 4 meals.
If using zip locks freeze flat to save on space and enable neat stacking.
Freeze and save for those busy weeks and use for pasta bakes or lasagne.