A Bolognese sauce is technically a ‘ragu’, but don’t mistake it for that stuff in a jar.
Knowing how to make pasta bolognese can be one of the greatest weapons in your food repertoire. You don’t need expensive ingredients – although red wine never hurts – just a bit of know-how and some time to let the sauce reduce.
Many Italian dishes have humble origins, and it’s the care and time that go into them that make them great, not shelling out piles of green for the most expensive ingredients. Your basic sauce needs only ground beef, canned tomatoes, garlic and some stock. But to get that extra oomph, a little bacon and red wine will turn your Bolognese from basic to brilliant.
After browning your beef a little, remove it from the pan. Make sure it’s just past the point of pink, don’t cook it through. You can then add crushed garlic cloves, diced onion and a few rashers of finely shredded bacon. Be generous with your wine—at least two glasses for a sauce serving four people. Let this all reduce down until you are left with a thick wine sauce. There will be hardly any wine left at this point.
Now you can throw in the tomatoes and stock, and get them up to temperature—your meat comes last. And then it’s a waiting game.
Reduce the Ragu
With all your ingredients now mingling with each other in a steamy simmering pot, you just need to keep an eye on things. This sauce takes a while to reach perfection, but the time you need to be at the stove is minimal. Keep it at a gentle simmer and give it a stir every now and again, to make sure nothing is sticking. It’ll take 45 minutes to an hour from this point to reach delicious perfection. You’ll know it’s ready when it looks rich, but having a taste to make sure the flavor is just right is always a good plan.
Although we often use this sauce for “Spaghetti Bolognese”, spaghetti is not actually the best pasta for Bolognese. As it’s a thick meaty sauce, you are best off with pasta that can hold the sauce on there like fusilli or the flatter tagliatelle is a better option than spaghetti – more surface area to grab the sauce.
Need to know how to make a pasta Bolognese for a vegetarian? For a veggie option you can substitute ground beef for a meat substitute or some roasted veggies like bell peppers and zucchini. Buon Appetito!