Recipe video above. My everyday Bolognese recipe I make over and over again. This Meat Sauce has 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.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 onion , finely chopped (brown, yellow or white)
- 1 lb / 500g beef mince (ground beef) OR half pork, half beef (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry red wine (sub water or beef broth/stock)
- 2 beef bouillon cubes , crumbled OR granulated beef bouillon (Note 2)
- 800g / 28 oz can crushed tomato (or tomato passata)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 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 , dried
- 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 3 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.
Tossing Sauce and Spaghetti (optional, Note 4)
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. Meat - 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. Beef stock cubes - I use Oxo Beef Cubes (Woolies & Coles). Use any beef bouillon / stock cube or in powder form (called "granulated beef bouillon" in some countries).
If using a powder, use 2 tsp (ie 1 tsp per 1 cube).
3. Canned tomato - Mid range 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. Tossing pasta sauce - See commentary in post about emulsifying the pasta sauce. This is the "proper" Italian way to cook pastas, and the way pasta is served in restaurants.
5. Slow simmer 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 very low for 2 - 2.5 hours. Then uncover and simmer for 30 minutes to reduce sauce.
6. Other notes:
* Scaling recipe up (use auto recipe scaler) - If you double the recipe (or more!), then brown the beef in 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!
- Finely chop 1 carrot + celery and saute that with the onion to make a softrito. Cook on medium low heat for 10 minutes for extra amazingness!
- 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
- Bolognese gets better the longer it is cooked, and it's even better the next day!
7. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings, including pasta.
Serving: 396g | Calories: 510kcal | Carbohydrates: 53.2g | Protein: 40.9g | Fat: 12.6g | Saturated Fat: 3.3g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 368mg | Potassium: 1046mg | Fiber: 2.7g | Sugar: 8.4g | Vitamin A: 1450IU | Vitamin C: 34.7mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 22.1mg