Bolognese Alla Natalia

Bolognese Alla Natalia

Yes, I like myself that much that I have named this after myself. I don’t claim this is authentic; probably Italians are rolling in their graves, though from all the recipe books i’ve read and all the cookery programmes i’ve watched, there doesn’t seem to be one definitive recipe for bolognese. It varies from place to place and each person seems to be insistent that THEIR recipe is THE recipe.

I’ve tried it cooked with red wine, white wine, stock, no stock, carrot and celery, no carrot and celery, pancetta, no pancetta. If there’s a bolognese recipe, i’ve probably cooked it. I’ve done ’em all but this is my version, cooked long and slow which lends a wonderful richness and depth of flavour.

It makes 8-10 portions depending on your portion size. I like to make it and keep a stash in the freezer, it’s my comfort, my safety net for those days of just ‘UGH. WHAT? COOK? REALLY?!’ but i’ve also made a lasagne for 4 (and the baby) with a couple of portions left for the freezer. I probably make this once a week now, at the beginning of the week. I knock up a lasagne, which goes in the freezer for Saturday lunch because I find weekend lunches so irksome. Having to cook a meal that will please everybody is near impossible in our house but everybody eats the lasagne.

The first bolognese I ever made was by Queen Delia and i’ve stuck to her cooking time and temperature here as i’ve found that is what works best. I whizz my vegetables up in my thermomix but a mini chopper would do the job. I find there can’t be any discernible vegetables or it’s game over with my eldest two!

Olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g beef mince
500g pork or veal mince
700 ml passata
140g tomato puree
Half a bottle of red wine
1 beef stock cube (I use the knorr stock pot things)
1 Bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 140 c

1. Finely chop your veg (seriously, get a mini-chopper).
2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and saute the veg until soft, add a splash of water if it starts to stick. Transfer to a large stew pot.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and brown the beef mince, breaking up and moving around the pan. I hammer the heck out of it with my wooden spoon as I like my mince really fine, can’t stand wormy mince. Gag. Repeat with the pork mince. Transfer to the pot.
4. Put the pot on the heat, add the red wine and mix everything together well. When the wine is bubbling, add the passata, tomato puree, beef stock, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Stir well and bring up to a simmer, then put the pot in the oven with no lid on.
5. Cook for 4 hours or until it’s reached the consistency that you like. We like it fairly dry, so that it coats the pasta well. No sloppy sauce!

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