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How to Make a Delicious Pasta Bolognaise

Bolognaise sauce is usually among the first dishes that would-be home cooks in the UK tackle. It’s something that’s quite forgiving and straightforward, that can be put together quite cheaply. If you want to cook a large batch, you can freeze it for later, saving yourself lots of time.

But there’s a big difference between a quality bolognaise and a mediocre one. Often, this difference stems to just a few common errors. It’s not just a matter of authenticity, either: whether a resident of Bologna might enjoy your sauce should matter quite a lot less than whether you’re going to enjoy it.

So, how do you make a pasta bolognese that’s worth eating?

Get the Right Cookware

A bolognese sauce requires just a few components, namely a spatula, a pot, and a knife. You can throw in a ladle, too, for serving up, and a grater for distributing your parmesan, later. Quality cookware goes a long way.

What are the ingredients?

You should seek out:

1 lb (400g) pork, minced

1 kb (400g) beef,  minced

3 garlic cloves

2 large onions

2 carrots

2 sticks of celery

2 cans of plum tomatoes

1 tbsp of tomato purée (not ketchup)

Dried spaghetti

Olive oil

Red wine (a good one)

Vegetable stock cube

Your mince should be 20% fat; this is what will make for a lovely, silky sauce, rather than a bland crumbly one. There’s reason to suppose it might be better for you, too. This should be enough to feed eight people. Remember that an authentic sauce can go a long way: you want the dish to be mostly pasta.

How to make the dish

First, you want everything prepped and ready to go. Finely dice the onions, celery, and carrots. Then get your pot on low heat. Drizzle in a glug of olive oil. You want just enough so that your sliced veg isn’t going to stick to the bottom. Cook the mix for around ten minutes, until everything is softened and nicely browned.

Squeeze in the puree, and the crushed garlic, and cook for another few minutes. Then throw in the meat. You can turn up the heat, here, and stir it so that it cooks evenly. You might need to cook it in batches to brown it completely.

Once it’s browned, you should have a layer of baked-on juice at the bottom of the pan. Throw in a glass of red wine, which should bubble up and deglaze the bottom. Use your spatula to scrape it all up, then add your tinned tomatoes and the stock cube, and lower the heat.

From here it’s a matter of reducing, topping it up with water if it looks a little on the dry side. You want it to be nicely thick after around two hours.

As for the pasta, you can cook this in a separate pan. Bring the water to a boil and throw in enough salt that the water tastes like the sea. You might need a lot of salt. Then throw in your pasta. Once it’s halfway cooked, you can scoop out a ladleful of the starchy, salty water and add it to your sauce.

When the pasta’s done, you should drain it and toss it inside a portion of the sauce, before it cools down. This will allow the pasta to absorb the flavors. Then dish up and garnish with black pepper and parmesan. 

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