Everyone needs a great everyday Spaghetti Bolognese recipe, and this is mine! Whether you use this for a quick midweek meal or a slow cooked weekend indulgence, this Bolognese sauce is rich, thick and has beautiful depth of flavour. This is a staple recipe you’ll make over and over again….
We Aussies have a thing about shortening words. Good day is g’day. Pavlova is Pav, afternoon is arvo, mosquitos are mozzies. Sharon is Shazz, Nagisa is Nagi (that’s yours truly).
So it is thoroughly Aussie to shorten Spaghetti Bolognese to Spag Bol!
THE ONE AND ONLY BOLOGNESE
I’ve been loyal to this recipe since I first learned to cook when I was a teenager. There are 3 little things in this recipe that might be a bit different to Bolognese recipes you’ve seen around:
1. Worcestershire sauce: it just adds that little extra something-something. I get antsy if I get caught in a situation where I have to do without;
2. Beef bouillon cubes (beef stock cubes) for extra depth of flavour in the sauce, to compensate for this being an everyday midweek version rather than a traditional slow cooked Bolognese Ragu which starts with a soffrito (onion, celery, carrot slowly sautéed) as well as pancetta.
3. Sugar, if needed: just a little bit goes a long way to transform the sauce if you happen not to be using high quality, sweet Italian canned tomatoes. Supermarket canned tomatoes here in Australia are notoriously sour. Especially the Australian ones – it pains me so much to say that, but it’s true.
TOSS THE BOLOGNESE SAUCE AND PASTA
As with all my pasta recipes, I include a step to toss the pasta IN the sauce, rather than just placing pasta in bowls and spooning over sauce.
This makes the Bolognese sauce emulsify, so it thickens, becomes glossy and clings to the spaghetti. No more watery sauce at the bottom of your pasta bowl! This is how chefs and Italians make pasta. Try it once, you will be converted!
But it is an optional step. Sometimes, you just don’t have the energy to clean yet another pan. I hear ya. 🙂
This is the way I have been making Spaghetti Bolognese for decades (gosh it’s scary saying that!!). I really love it, and I think the sauce is rich and loaded with flavour, especially for a 30 minute Bolognese recipe.
Though if you have the time, slow cook it for a couple of hours. The flavour develops and the meat becomes so luxuriously tender! – Nagi xx
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Recipe video above. My everyday Bolognese recipe I make over and over again. Terrific depth of flavour for such a quick recipe - though if you have the time, it's stellar cooked slowly for a couple of hours. My 3 "secret" tips are: Worcestershire Sauce, Beef Bouillon Cubes and a touch of sugar.
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 onion , finely chopped (brown, yellow or white)
- 1 lb / 500g mince / ground beef OR half pork, half beef (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml dry red wine (or sub with water or beef broth/stock)
- 2 beef bouillon cubes , crumbled (Note 2)
- 28 oz / 800g can crushed tomato (or tomato passata)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 - 3 tsp white sugar , if needed (Note 3)
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme or oregano)
- Salt and pepper
- 400 g / 13 oz spaghetti
- Parmesan cheese and finely chopped parsley (optional)
Heat oil in a large pot or deep skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 5 minutes or until light golden and softened.
Turn heat up to high and add beef. Cook, breaking it up as your go, until browned.
Add red wine. Bring to simmer and cook for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pot, until the alcohol smell is gone.
Add remaining ingredients except salt and pepper. Stir, bring to a simmer then turn down to medium so it bubbles gently. Cook for 20 - 30 minutes (no lid), adding water if the sauce gets too thick for your taste. Stir occasionally. (See note 5 for slow cooking option)
Adjust salt and pepper to taste right at the end. Serve over spaghetti - though if you have the time, I recommend tossing the sauce and pasta per steps below.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook per packet directions MINUS 1 minute.
Scoop out a mug of pasta cooking water and set aside, then drain the pasta.
Add pasta into the bolognese sauce with about 1/2 cup (125 ml) of reserved pasta water over medium heat. Toss gently for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, or until the spaghetti turns red and the sauce thickens.
Divide between bowls. Garnish with parmesan and parsley if desired.
1. Some traditional slow cooked Bolognese Sauce are made with a mixture of beef and pork mince. Beef for flavour, pork for juiciness. I typically do not use this for midweek.
2. I use Oxo Beef Cubes (Woolies & Coles).
3. Supermarket canned tomato can be notoriously sour. A touch of sugar makes an incredible difference. The amount required will depend on how sweet / sour the tomatoes and tomato paste is - go by taste. Typically, the better the quality, the less sour they are so the less sugar you will need.
4. See commentary in post about emulsifying the pasta sauce. This is the "proper" Italian way to cook pastas.
5. Slow cooking option: really takes this to another level, if you have the time! Incredible extra flavour and tender meat. Just add 3/4 cup of water, cover with lid and simmer on low for 2 hours. Then uncover and simmer for 30 minutes to reduce sauce.
6. Other notes:
* If you double the recipe, then brown the beef in 2 batches. If you try to cook it in one batch, you will end up stewing it rather than browning!
* SLOW COOKER: This is really fantastic made in a slow cooker! The meat becomes so tender and the sauce has incredible flavour. At step 3, cook until the wine liquid disappears completely, then transfer it into the slow cooker at step 4 and cook for low for 6 hours.
* VARIATIONS: Here are some ideas for ways to take this up a notch, if you are so inclined!
- Add finely chopped bacon (smokey is the ultimate!) or pancetta, cook with the onion
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (my mother did this, I sometimes do! I've seen it in some chef recipes)
- Fresh or dried red chilli
- Finely chop 1 carrot + celery and saute that with the onion to make a softrito
- Bolognese gets better the longer it is cooked, and it's even better the next day. A traditional Italian Bolognese Ragu is cooked for around 2 hours!
7. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.Originally published August 2016. Updated with new commentary and most importantly, recipe video! No change to recipe.
LIFE OF DOZER
Monday’s Life of Dozer flashback: puppy Dozer before learning how to swim, gazing longingly out at the ducks in the dam.
And today’s flashback – Dozer after learning how to swim. This is why I don’t walk him on the golf course anymore!