Spaghetti-Oooo… that is what my Lil Samurai likes to call it. It is spaghettioooo because the mouth is an ‘O’ with you slurp in the spaghetti – yep …. Phonics. He has no idea that he is probably violating Campbell patent rights for those canned spaghetti rings. Both the +Two love Spaghetti Bolognese until of course, I over-serve it and then I see wrinkling noses and ‘AGAIN?’ pops out instead of the ‘OOOOO”! But that doesn’t change the foodie fact that Spaghetti Bolognese or Ragù Bolognese is everybody’s favorite comfort food; meat packed tomato sauce tossed in hot pasta. Plus the ragù can be frozen for some lazy or tiring day when you don’t want to go through the larder; and we both know those days come and they arrive just-like-that.
Let’s start with a detailed and boring discussion about the beef. Get good quality minced beef; don’t compromise on that! This dish is all about meat sauce, remember? Yes BEEF always please unless you cannot use it for dietary reasons; only then opt for lamp mince. I beseech you not to use chicken or turkey minced meat; there will be nothing ragù about that.
Also do not buy cheap mince from a random butcher or meat aisle where spare scraps from the steaks and other tender cuts are commonly thrown in with the shoulder/chuck meat and pressed through the mincer. If I’m really in the mood to make some terrific ragù Bolognese, I choose good quality veal meat and then have it minced just then or at least buy if from a reliable butcher.
The white specks that you see in the mince are fat bits. You don’t want it to be too fatty otherwise the sauce will be too oily. On the other hand, very little fat and the mince will be too dry and flavorless. The specked minced beef picture above shows what good mince with around 10-15% fat should look like.
I prefer to pre-cook all minced meats with a bit of oil and garlic till all moisture has evaporated and the meat has a sheen on it. That way if there is excessive fat, you can always drain it off.
I purchased this meat a day before I made the Ragu so I stir fried it in garlic and diced carrots and celery. Most authentic recipes will call for carrots and celery but it’s really optional. Carrots have a very mellow flavor and Gadget Guy doesn’t care for celery. So normally I skip the carrots and celery in this recipe.
Add the olive oil in a cooking pot followed by the chopped onions.
Once the onions are translucent, add the chopped garlic.
When the onions and garlic start to turn brown, add the pre-cooked veal/beef mince.
Add the pureed tomatoes.
Add the paprika…
Add the dried basil leaves…
And the dried oregano leaves and reduce the sauce by half.
Once the sauce is reduced and thicker, add the thyme leaves.
Add the sugar….
And then the tomato paste. In case you do not have the concentrated tomato paste at hand, use double the quantity of regular tomato ketchup and skip the sugar.
Splash in … err measure out… and add the balsamic vinegar…
Reduce the sauce further until thick and the juices are no longer floating over the minced meat.
Once the Bolognese sauce is ready, bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the Spaghetti or Tagliatelle. Boil until the pasta is al dente and drain. Do reserve ½ a cup of the pasta water in case you want to thin out the Bolognese sauce.
While I don’t like my pasta as al dente as Italian do, I like to drain it very al dente. That way when it goes into the sauce, it absorbs the moisture and flavors from it.
Drain the pasta and shift it back to the cooking pot while it is very hot.
Throw in the shredded basil leaves and pour the ragu on top and toss lightly. It’s crucial that the pasta is hot and freshly boiled before you add the sauce and ideally it should be enjoyed without more ado.
If you are entertaining, twirl the spaghetti into nests onto individual pasta plates and pile a generous helping of the Ragu sauce on top. And of course some freshly grated Parmesan and black olives. I was missing some beautiful … something green so I scattered some baby basil leaves on top.
Serve with warm crusty bread or some quick desperate bruschetta.
Now take a fork to the Spaghetti Bolognese and twirl it against your spoon and then, well… dig in and then have some more!!!
- 500 grams Beef or Lamp - Minced *
- 500 grams Dried Spaghetti or Tagliatelle
- 1 Cup Red Onion – Diced
- 2 Cups Ripe & Red Tomatoes - Puréed
- 4-6 Cloves Garlic - Finely Chopped/Smashed
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Paprika
- ½ Teaspoon Oregano Leaves
- ½ Teaspoon Basil Leaves
- ½ Teaspoon Thyme Leaves
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Handful Fresh Basil Leaves- Shredded
- *For this recipe you can precook the minced meat by stir frying it with garlic or you adding it raw while making the sauce.
- Heat the olive oil in the pot and add onions on medium flame.
- Add garlic and stir fry till onion & garlic start to brown.
- Now add the minced beef as per preference.
- Turn the heat on medium and pour in the pureed tomatoes.
- Add the paprika, basil leaves and oregano leaves.
- Reduce the sauce by half and add the thyme leaves.
- Add the salt, sugar, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar.
- You can adjust the saltiness, sweetness and tartness according to personal taste.
- Reduce the sauce further till very thick and the consistency is right for coating the pasta.
- Spaghetti or Tagliatelle
- Boil the spaghetti in salted water.
- Drain the pasta when its al dente and put in back into the cooking pot when hot.
- Throw in the shredded basil leaves and pour the ragu sauce on top.
- Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan on top with some black olives and fresh basil leaves.
- Serve immediately.