Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Family Spaghetti "Bolognaise"

This is bolognaise in a loose sense of the word - purists would probably raise an eyebrow.

In my ideal world, there would be a glass of red wine and perhaps a chopped chicken liver or five in this recipe. I tend to chop the vegetables into very small pieces, and put the mushrooms into a food processor, which works well with the children. You can really bulk out the mix with lots of vegetables, and also add red lentils if you like. This one is a firm favourite with the middle child, who loves helping me to cook it, cleans his bowl and always asks for seconds.



  • 2 onions, chopped finely
  • 2 large carrots, chopped finely
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 heaped dessert spoons of pancetta cubes or sliced streaky bacon
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 X 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon worcester sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • A handful of mushrooms, chopped finely (or whizzed in a food processor for the fungus-phobic)
  • 1 dessert spoon dried, mixed herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary etc.)
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 beef stock cube, made up with 300ml boiling water
  • (Optional) 1/2 a glass of red wine
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Splash of extra virgin olive oil to serve
  • Ground black pepper to taste
Serves 8



  • Heat a splash of sunflower oil in a large, heavy-bottommed pan and add the pancetta when very hot. Stir around the pan, allowing it to brown
  • Add the onions and stir until they soften and turn glossy
  • Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, before adding the beef. Turn the heat to high and brown the mince all over
  • Add the worcester sauce, carrots, celery, mushrooms and mixed herbs and mix well
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, beef stock (and wine) and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, mixing well
  • Add a splash of milk, which will make your sauce take on a more silky texture
  • Add plenty of ground black pepper, lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. If necessary, break up the plum tomatoes at the end of the cooking time
  • Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil to serve
The sauce improves in flavour if left overnight, and can be frozen in batches. My pasta of choice would be linguine or maybe tagliatelle, but any long pasta will do. The children like grated cheddar on top of the bolognaise sauce, so I usually serve a bowl at the table, and they help themselves.

Family Spaghetti "Bolognaise"

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