Ragù alla bolognese
Spaghetti alla bolognese is one of my favorite, and most comforting, dishes! It is hearty and delicious and easy to make if you have a couple hours to let it simmer. I know that bolognese is a touchy subject. All families have a way of making it, and for some it is a sin to put in tomatoes. For some it is a sin to add herbs. I use tomatoes and herbs in mine, because I like it that way. But please use good, canned tomatoes. The last few times I have been making it I have used some tomatoes that I brought back from Italy in the fall and canned using this recipe (in Danish) from the amazing Camilla Plum. If you can’t get hold of good canned tomatoes, I would use tomato passata which is pureed tomatoes. Also when I take the time to make a really good bolognese, it is really worth splurging for some good spaghetti. I love De Cecco’s spaghetti which is easy to cook perfectly (al dente). Here is a picture of the spaghetti and tomatoes having a party on my (dirty) dining room table:
I know that there are tons of different recipes for bolognese out there, but I hereby give you the one that I have come up with through my years in the kitchen, and is my favorite:
To cook for four people you need:
400 g/1 lb ground beef.
A couple glugs of olive oil
4 stalks of celery
5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
1 can of really good tomatoes or tomato passata
1/2 liter red wine
4 dl vegetable or beef stock (or water and boullion cubes)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
First you have some chopping to do. Mince the onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a big (and preferably heavy) pot and add the vegetables. Sauté them over medium heat while stirring for about 15-20 minutes. At this point they should be soft and almost melting together. Turn the heat up a bit and add the meat. Sauté all of this until the meat is browned and it smells amazing. Add the tomato puree and fry it with the meat and vegetable for a minute or two. Add the herbs, tomatoes, wine, stock, salt and pepper. Have it come to a simmer, and leave it that way on pretty low heat. I usually cook my bolognese for 2 hours, at least. I would cook it for up to 4 hours, but then you would have to add more liquid along the way. While it bubbles away in the kitchen, check on it once in a while and try stirring it. Is it getting too dry? Then add more stock. When you are about ready to serve, check the seasoning and add more salt, pepper or sugar to taste.
Boil the spaghetti in plenty of very salted water. Serve the ragù over the drained pasta and grate tons of parmesan on top. And then eat until you are about to burst!
PS. Bolognese is one of the best leftover meals I know! It just gets better on the second day and actually the top picture is bolognese as a scrumptious leftover lunch…. And here it is again after I dug into it: