Monday, February 25, 2013

Spaghetti Bolognese

I had written in an earlier post that I would be going 'back to basics' this year.

Surely a good spaghetti bolognese recipe is a must on anyone's list of basic recipes. I thought that my recipe was fairly standard, however a few weeks ago I took a batch of my spaghetti bolognese to a friend in need. Her family absolutely loved it, not only was it a much needed night off for her, but she told me her children were asking for second helpings. Really, is there any greater complement? She has asked me for the recipe.

I have been cooking my spaghetti bolognese pretty much the same way for over 20 years. I usually use beef mince and a good smoked bacon in my sauce, as I always have that at hand. However many years ago, I made a few adjustments to my recipe original recipe. By using half pork and half beef mince and by using pancetta instead of bacon, it makes for a damn good bolognese. I always make these changes if I am cooking this for someone else.

I have been known to make a quick bolognese sauce late in the day and have simmered it only for 30 minutes. It still tastes great, but if I have the time, I usually cook it for 2 to 3 hours. The best thing about bolognese: everyone can make it, everyone loves it and it freezes well. There is always (always) 2 or 3 containers of this sauce in my freezer.

How do you make you bolognese sauce? What are your secrets?

Spaghetti Bolognese

serves 4-6

• 500 grams spaghetti

• 1 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 onion (finely diced)
• 1 carrot (finely diced)
• 1 stick celery (finely diced)
• 100 grams pancetta or bacon (finely diced)
• 2-3 cloves garlic (crushed)
• 500 grams beef mince (or 250 grams beef and 250 grams pork)
• 2 x 440 gram tinned tomatoes (chopped)
• 1 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1/2 cup red wine
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 generous tablespoon fresh herbs (rosemary, oregano, parsley, thyme)
• salt and pepper

to serve 

• parmesan cheese

In a large heavy based pot heat the oil to medium heat and gently sauté the onions, carrot, celery and pancetta. When the vegetables are soft, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat and add the mince to the pan. Cook until browned. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, bay and herbs. Season to taste. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 1-2 hours. The longer the better.

Twenty minutes before serving, bring some water to the boil to cook the pasta. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Serve the spaghetti with the sauce.


  1. Looks so good - I love bolognese! I've been suddenly allergic to tomatoes for two years, and have had limited success using substitutes. My best version has been a jar of Ally's No-Tomato sauce, beef mince, bacon, carrot, onion, lots of pepper, and italian herb seasoning - and then cooked in the slow cooker after fat-draining for 6 or so hours. It works well as part of a lasagne, but something isn't quite right so it's not great just served with pasta.

    I'm tempted to try adding in some italian sausages (if I can find some suitable ones), but I think I'll have to give up on the idea of a perfect tomato-free bolognese.

    1. Oh no, allergic to tomatoes! I don't know if I could cope very well with that. Unfortunately I don't have any advice for you, I like to put tomatoes in everything!


Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear what's happening in your kitchen. If you've tried one of my recipes, I'd like to know what you thought? Do you have some advice to make it better? Did you find a mistake? Perhaps it is a new favourite in your home?

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