An Even Better Spaghetti Bolognese

About 2 min reading time

This is a continuation (sequel? remix?) on the post My Spaghetti Bolognese”. In that one, I wrote about a spaghetti bolognese recipe which I thought I’d, pretentious as I am, perfected over the years.

We recently spent a month in Florence, Italy, where we stayed with a host family. For one birthday party for their grandchild, the family father had made a ragú sauce served with penne pasta. The sauce was amazing: rich, juicy, and smooth. I asked for the recipe, and will present it in this post.

The ingredients

  • 1-2 finely chopped garlic cloves.
  • 500g of minced pork and beef meat.
  • 1-2 celeries.
  • 1-2 carrots.
  • 1 onion (preferrably red).
  • 750g passata (tomato sauce). I ended up adding 1200g of passata since I wanted a saucier feeling.
  • 1 glass red wine.
  • Sugar (optional).
  • Meat broth (optional).
  • Plenty of olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper.

For the celery, carrot, and onion: the individual units aren’t as important as the ratio between them. The recipe I received said: The same amount of celery and onion, a little less carrot”.

The amount of olive oil is something one needs to freewheel. I usually go with covering the whole pot with almost one centimeter of oil (depending on the size of pot, of course). There’s a lot of fat coming from the pork part in the meat, so beware: that much oil might not be required.

The steps

  1. Fry the garlic in a pot or deep pan with plenty of olive oil. Garlic should be added when the oil is hot.
  2. Add the meat, and brown it well.
  3. When the meat is well cooked, add a finely chopped mixture of celery, carrots, and onion.
  4. When the mixture is cooked, add the passata. Add salt to taste, as well as some ground pepper.
  5. Wait for the sauce to boil, and add a glass of wine. Wait for it to evaporate completely.
  6. Cook over very low heat for at least 30 minutes. If the sauce is too acidic, add a teaspoon of sugar. If it’s too dry, add a little meat broth.

(I’ve never needed meat broth in this recipe. There’s just no way I’ve managed to get it too dry.)

You can let it sit on the stove without a lid for a couple of hours if you’d like. Or put it on very low heat in the oven (around 100 degrees celsius in my convection oven seemed fine over 5 hours of cooking). I’m not actually sure what the benefits with the oven are — perhaps the sauce becomes different if you heat it from all directions? Who knows.

When serving with pasta, don’t forget to add around a deciliter of pasta water to the sauce at the end. It really ties the sauce together”, as they say. Parmesan or pecorino is nice to offer too.

Done.

Differences from the other recipe

  • 50/50 pork and beef instead of 100% beef. The 50/50 mix makes for a more fatty and tasty sauce, thanks to the pork.
  • Cooking the onion, carrots, and celery in the meat instead of sautéing them. This felt kind of weird to me first, since all recipes I read say that you should fry the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery in the pot before adding the meat. I’m not sure about the difference.s
  • Use of more olive oil.
  • Use of meat broth (if needed).

This recipe felt simpler but still as good too, which I think should be the goal in cooking. The other recipe has ten steps, this one only has six steps.