Pasta alla Bolognaise.

One of the western world’s favourite recipes has its origins in the northern Italian City of Bologna. As you can imagine, there is an astronomically high number of recipes for its preparation, ranging from the traditional through to concoctions that owe only a passing relationship with Italian cuisine. If you do a bit of research you will find complex ‘celebrity chef’ recipes calling for dozens of tiny gourmet ingredients and lots of care and attention. Look a bit further and you will find ones like the one below, which is much easier to prepare, although it takes longer to cook. This is what is known technically as a ragoût [Italian Ragù], which is a main-course stew prepared by cooking low and slow and then used to dress up something else, e.g. pasta.

Ingredients.

¼ cup olive oil.

250g chopped lean bacon.

2 large onions, peeled and chopped.

500g lean beef mince.

6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed.

Freshly ground black pepper to taste.

4 tablespoons plain flour.

2 400g cans tomato pieces in juice.

3 tablespoons tomato paste.

1 cup red wine.

½ cup chopped fresh basil.

Method.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and fry the bacon. Add the onion and stir fry until soft, then add the mince and stir fry until brown. Add the garlic and pepper, and sprinkle with the flour. Stir through until well incorporated and lump-free. Cook, stirring, for a further 1-2 minutes, then add the tomato pieces, tomato paste and red wine.

Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook slowly for 1 hour. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from the stove, cover and allow to stand for three to four hours to let the flavours combine. If you have got this far, what you have produced is Bolognaise Sauce.

To make Pasta alla Bolognaise, gently reheat the Bolognaise Sauce and check the seasoning – there should be quite enough salt from the bacon, but some people want more – then stir in the chopped basil. Cook for a further ten minutes and serve over pasta with grated cheese and a fresh green salad on the side.

Serves: 4-6.

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