Ragù alla bolognese from Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Italy Food and Stories
Spaghetti Bolognese: Australia’s national dish? Some might say yes, Poh from Masterchef might say no! Some might say it’s the ultimate comfort food: pasta, tomatoey goodness. In this sudden turn to cooler weather here in Sydney, we were looking for good old fashioned spag bol, and this has to be possibly the best recipe I’ve tried yet.
Mr Locatelli is very precise with his instructions, and the simplicity of this sauce is in stark contrast to some of the recipes or thrown together versions of a bolognese I’ve come across, that include things like, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and of course tomato sauce. What results from this recipe is a beautiful, creamy, tomatoey sauce that is so deeply flavoured that it sent us both into raptures. For this recipe please use the best ingredients you can afford, it really does make a difference to the outcome, though it seems counter intuitive for such a typically standard dish that so many of us eat all the time. It’s really a revelation to cook a carefully considered recipe that yields such a result from an old faithful.
Ragù alla Bolognese
- 500g minced beef
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
- Sprig of rosemary, sage, and I added some fresh oregano, tied together (I had nothing to tie it together)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 200ml of red wine
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 400ml tomato passata
- salt and pepper
- pasta for 3
- freshly grated pecorino or parmesan
Make sure your mince is bought to room temperature, so it sears rather than stews when it goes into the pan
Heat the oil in a wide bottomed pan, add the veggies, herbs, whole garlic cloves and sweat over high heat for 5-8 minutes without allowing it to colour (You need to keep stirring)
Season the meat with salt and pepper and add to the pan of vegetables making sure that the meat covering the base of the pan. Leave for about 5-6 minutes, so that the meat seals underneath and heats through completely, before you start stirring (otherwise it will ooze protein and liquid and boil rather than sear). Take care that the vegetables don’t burn – add a little oil if necessary. Mine burned. Maybe turn down the heat a stitch.
Stir the meat and vegetables every few minutes for about 10-12 minutes, until the meat starts to stick to the pan. At this point, the meat is ready to take the wine.
Add the wine and let it reduce right down to virtually nothing, then add the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.
Add the passata with about a cup of water. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 30-45 minutes adding a little more water if necessary, until you have a thick sauce.
When you’re ready to serve, boil up the pasta (Giorgio recommends tagliatelle or papparedelle or a short pasta), drain, reserving the cooking water. Add the pasta to the ragù, and toss well, adding some of the cooking water, if necessary to loosen the sauce. Serve with freshly grated cheese.