Posts Tagged ‘bolognese’

Spaghetti bolognese

Bolognese is a staple in the grub’s up household. However, despite the regularity that we have it, I’ve never attempted to modify (and document) my recipe so I thought it was about time to begin.

I’ve always used a few core ingredients – onion, garlic, lean minced beef, oregano, good quality tinned chopped tomatoes, tomato pureé, salt and pepper – but have little variations every time I cook. I’d add some worcestershire sauce, red wine, marmite or beef stock. Sometimes I’d add them all. I do believe that the longer you cook it the better it tastes but I’m not sure that hours and hours of cooking results in something much different to what you would get after an hour on the hob.

When searching the internet for some inspiration I came across a few suggestions that I thought I’d try in tonight’s dinner. The first is using both pork and beef mince. This gives the dish more flavour and makes it more authentic than using beef on its own. The second is milk: adding it during the early stages of cooking helps tenderise the meat. Next is carrot, which I don’t usually add but is present in the traditional soffrito to which the meat is added. Finally, red wine. However I didn’t want to open a bottle just to use a splash for dinner so I looked for an alternative, without much success. In the end I settled with red wine vinegar – I’m trying to justify this now with some well-researched facts from cookery but I’m drawing a blank. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

I chose to grate the carrot so it would cook quickly; I attempted to grate the onion too but this resulted in a strange watery mush so I diced it instead.

Spaghetti Bolognese
Serves 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1hr 20mins

350g lean beef mince
350g pork mince
2 carrots, grated
2 small onions, grated if you can, else dice finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp tomato puree
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)
salt & pepper
olive oil
grated cheddar (optional)

Firstly brown the mince in batches in a dry pan then drain the excess fat and set aside.

Put 1tbsp olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the carrot, onion and garlic. Fry over a low heat for 5 or 6 minutes until they have softened, being careful not to let them brown. Add the oregano, bay, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and cook briefly before adding the mince. Stir the mince through then add the milk and red wine vinegar before cooking for a few minutes. Next add the tomato pureé and cook it off briefly then stir it through.

Leave everything for a couple of minutes, then add both tins of tomatoes to the pan, bring to the boil then simmer, covered, for at least an hour to allow the flavours to combine. Check the seasoning just before serving and serve with spaghetti and grated cheese if you like.


This turned out surprisingly well. The meat was tender and flavourful and the sauce had a wonderful beefy-tomatoey depth to it. It actually tasted like I’d added the wine, so perhaps the red wine vinegar wasn’t a complete mistake. I was worried the vinegar would result in a tangy dish but it was nothing of the sort. A good thing that it tasted so great as there’s a huge amount of leftovers. I cooked enough for an entire family – think I’ll be having this for lunch a few times next week.

I’m not sure whether the mince should be drained after cooking or not. The beef mince is lean so it doesn’t release so much fat, but there’s still quite a bit of it. One side of me thinks that not draining will add to the flavour, the other side thinks that it’ll end up too greasy and oily. Only one way to find out – next time I’ll skip this step.

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Conchiglie Bolognese

Conchiglie bolognese

Bolognese is a staple in the Grub’s Up household. We usually cook enough to freeze, meaning there is always some for dinner if we are lacking in creativity and/or time of an evening.

I’ve never found a ‘perfect’ recipe for bolognese. I always use lean minced beef, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, herbs and salt and pepper and then add one/many/all of red wine, beef stock, Marmite or Lea & Perrins. Tonight’s bolognese was out the freezer and the only thing I could remember from cooking it is that I used some red wine. I find the wine gives a good depth of flavour to the dish and adds to the ‘beefy-ness’, although I’d be interested to see what white wine does instead.  As I use beef, Erika cooks a Quorn version for herself, she’s not entirely happy with it though and would love some recommendations!

Tonight we had the bolognese with conchiglie – my favourite pasta for bolognese as the shells do a great job of holding the sauce. Next time I’ll note down the ingredients I use and can hopefully build on it to find the holy grail

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