Sunday, 29 June 2014

Bolognese Sauce

Like any parent, I try to make sure my kids eat reasonably healthy, including a selection of fresh fruit and
Thing 1 enjoying bolognese sauce
vegetables each week. One surefire way I have for getting my kids to eat veggies is to make a bolognese sauce.

It doesn't matter what I put in the pot, they will eat it. My eldest son once told me "Mum, you're the only person I know that puts carrots in a bolognese sauce."

I can cook this sauce up in an hour, or let it sit and simmer for a long while over an afternoon while I get on and do other things.  Personally, I prefer to let it slow simmer for at least 2 hours, and like many other sauces it improves even more if you can let it rest overnight.

This sauce can be used for more than just covering spaghetti (the favourite meal in our house). I also use it for topping jacket potatoes, in a pasta bake, and as a quick and simple topping on home made pizzas.

It also freezes well, so it can be made in bulk and divided into portions.

Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients
Bolognese sauce

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (any colour), seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium aubergine (eggplant), chopped
  • 1 medium courgette (zucchini), chopped
  • 8 - 12 mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 - 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Optional: 2 slices smoked dry cure streaky bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 500 gm lean minced beef 
  • 2 tablespoons double concentrated tomato puree (tomato paste)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 - 2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 - 8 whole black peppercorns (or 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper)
  • 1 pinch chilli flakes
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 carton plain passata (tomato puree)
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped (2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 handful fresh thyme, chopped (2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped (2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 handful fresh oregano, chopped (2 teaspoon dried)

Method:

  1. Chop all of the vegetables.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot, add the bacon if using. 
  3. Once the oil is heated, or the bacon begins to crisp, add the chopped vegetables. 
  4. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until the vegetables are softened. 
  5. If necessary, remove the cooked vegetables to a bowl. Add the mince and cook until browned. 
  6. Add in the tomato puree and stir for 1 - 2 minutes. 
  7. Crush the salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, chilli flakes, and any dried herbs using a mortar and pestle.
  8. Add this to the meat. Stir. 
  9. Add back the cooked vegetables. Stir.
  10. Add in the tinned tomatoes and tomato puree. Stir. 
  11. Rinse out the tin and the carton with 1/2 - 1 tin of water and add that to the sauce. 
  12. Bring it all up to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes or as long as you want. 
  13. If you're simmering it for a longer length of time, use more water. 
  14. Just before serving, remove it from the heat. Stir in the fresh herbs. 
  15. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. 
Serve hot.