Bolognese sauce, known in Italian as ragù alla bolognese, is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy, hence the name.
In Italian cuisine, it is customarily used to dress tagliatelle al ragù and to prepare lasagne alla bolognese.
In the absence of tagliatelle, it can also be used with other broad, flat pasta shapes, such as pappardelle or fettuccine.
Genuine ragù alla bolognese is a slowly cooked sauce, and its preparation involves several techniques, including sweating, sautéing and braising.
Ingredients include a characteristic soffritto of onion, celery and carrot, different types of minced or finely chopped beef, often alongside small amounts of fatty pork.
White wine, milk, and a small amount of tomato concentrate,
or tomatoes are added, and the dish is then gently simmered at length to
produce a thick sauce.
1 tbsp olive oil, or rice bran oil, or rapeseed oil
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped, or a pack of lardons
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
500g beef mince – pork or turkey mince works just as well, as does Quorn mince
For the Bolognese sauce
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 pack basil, leaves picked, ¾ finely chopped, and the rest left whole for garnish
1 tsp dried oregano
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 beef stock cube
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
100ml red wine
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
To season and serve
75g parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
crusty bread, to serve (optional)
Put a large saucepan on medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the bacon/lardons and fry until golden and crisp.
Reduce the heat and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and rosemary, then fry for 10 mins. Stir often until everything softens.
Increase the heat to medium-high, add the mince and cook stirring for 3-4 mins until the meat is browned all over.
Add the tinned tomatoes, chopped basil, oregano, bay leaves, tomato purée, stock cube, chilli, wine and cherry tomatoes. Stir well.
Bring to the boil, reduce to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 1¼ hours stirring occasionally, until you have a rich, thick sauce. Add the Parmesan, check the seasoning and stir.
When the Bolognese is nearly finished cook the spaghetti following pack instructions. Drain the spaghetti and stir into the Bolognese sauce. You can use some of the spaghetti water to let down the sauce if it is too thick.
Serve with grated Parmesan, the extra basil leaves and crusty bread.