After years of making spaghetti bolognaise from a jar, I recently started making my own at home. I make a big batch and freeze the leftovers. It is certainly not a traditional or authentic recipe. Doing what I often do when I want to try a new dish, I looked at different recipes for inspiration and then went of and started cooking and adding things myself, such as mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce. Neither are traditional ingredients, however I love mushrooms in this sauce, and for me the Worcestershire sauce just adds something. I always add it to my home made hamburgers and just added it automatically the first time I made this.

This recipe is something I taste as I go and make adjustments to at the end if needed (salt/pepper, maybe some more vinegar). Depending on the tomatoes you use or the sweetness of the red wine, you may need to add a small amount of sugar at the end to overcome some lingering tartness/bitterness. However I have only needed to do this one and only needed to add a small pinch. While it does have around 3 hour cooking time, most of that is taken up with the sauce slowly simmering away on the stove top, with the most you need to do is stir and taste occasionally. It’s certainly not something you want to make on a busy work night, but it’s a great one for an afternoon of cooking on the weekend. You can chop the vegetables quite small or keep them a bit larger if you prefer a chunkier sauce. It’s really up to you.

My Spaghetti Bolognaise

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 100g pancetta (or bacon), chopped into cubes or batons
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large or 2 small sticks celery, chopped finely
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, chopped finely (or minced)
  • 500g lean mince beef
  • 200g button or swiss brown mushrooms, sliced (optional – however if omitting add more mince)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil (optional)
  • ¼ cup red wine (optional or add more if you want a stronger red wine flavour)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tin (400g) peeled tomatoes in juice (or you can omit and just add more tomato paste and stock)
  • 1 1/2 cups water or stock, plus extra water if needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sugar (if needed)

You need a large frying pan or saucepan with a lid for this recipe.

Method

  1. Heat pan on medium heat and fry pancetta in a very small amount of oil for a few minutes until it starts to get crispy. Depending on how much fat is in your pancetta, you may not need the oil.
  2. Once crisp, add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook on a low/medium heat until they start to soften (approximately 10 minutes with lid on – stirring occasionally).
  3. Turn up the heat, add the mince and brown. Then add the mushrooms, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add wine (if using) and simmer for a few minutes to cook out the alcohol. Then add the tomato paste and cook out for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally add the tomatoes, stock (I rinse the tomato tin with the stock so I get all of the tomatoes and juice out), vinegar and  worcestershire sauce.
  5. Simmer for 2- 2 1/2 hours with the lid on, stirring occasionally. If it starts to dry out, add a little more water. Simmer with lid off for last 30 minutes to thicken the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed to your taste. If necessary, add a small amount of sugar to taste at this stage and stir and cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Serve with pasta/spaghetti of your choice and parmesan.

This makes a large batch, so leftovers can be frozen for another day. Either with the spaghetti or the sauce on its own. You can also make this sauce with meatballs rather than mince.