I’ve cooked various different versions of meat sauce for pasta, but this stands out from the crowd. It’s taken from Simon Cave’s ‘Manly Food’ book, which I’ve used so many times it’s starting to take on a flavour of its own from the cooking splashes I’ve splurged all over it.
Simon says: “The inclusion of different ingredients s much debated, but the crucial elements for a ‘proper’ Bolognese sauce are the addition of milk and the lengthy cooking time. If you have never used milk before, then you’ll find it’s a revelation. The sauce tastes even better the next day, so make more than you need or plan ahead.”
3 tbsp olive oil
50g pancetta, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
200g lean minced beef
100g minced pork (I used the meat from a couple of skinned sausages)
200ml white wine
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
Salt and black pepper
To finish: A swirl of double cream (optional) and grated Parmesan.
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the pancetta. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to crisp up and the fat starts to run.
2. Add the onion and let it soften over a medium heat for 2-3 mins before adding the garlic, carrot and celery. Stir the vegetables frequently for about 5 mins, then increase the heat, add the minced beef and pork, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat has browned all over. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the milk and let it evaporate completely before adding the wine. Let the wine evaporate, then add the tomatoes. Add the bay leaves, oregano and chilli (if using), cover and simmer very gently over a very low heat for about 3 hours. Stir occasionally and check regularly that there is enough liquid, adding a little water if necessary. Alternatively, transfer to a slow cooker and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.
4. Finish with a swirl of cream, if you like, and serve with spaghetti or tagliatelle and a scattering of grated Parmesan. You could even make your own by following my recipe here.