Bolognese Sauce


My A type personality* is starting to struggle slightly with the new house scenario.  Bare shelves, empty refrigerator no stockpile of bolognese sauce in the freezer… 

Bolognese sauce is my ultimate go-to food.  It doesn’t matter if it’s 36 C outside.  I can always eat a plate of pasta.  L loves Bolognese.  And if push comes to shove, you can serve it to un-expected guests along with a nice green salad and ice cream (from the Eis Laden downstairs which is starting to grow on me).  

There seem to be as many different versions of Bolognese as there are types of pasta.  Angela Hartnet likes to mince up her own veal rump (well not her own) and chuck steak and simmer all that in a nice chicken stock.  I’ve made this dish and it’s delicious, I recommend it.  However, chopping up over 1/2  a kg of beef into 1 mm pieces it just a little too time consuming not to mention an entirely insane endeavor to attempt in this weather.  Oh, and I haven’t exactly gotten round to whipping up some batches of nice chicken stock yet!

The authentic version (the link I have provided is for a Marcella Hazan recipe that uses beef and canned tomatoes) use tomato concentrate, milk and mince of both pork and beef.  Also good.  But everyone hankers after their “own” Bolognese sauce, which should have the same soothing effect like your favorite pair of slippers.  

My version of Bolognese uses beef mince (not lean because it dries out too much).  A cup of white wine to give it a sharp note.  And of course the holy trinity of onion, celery and carrot (and garlic).  


Now, for a small lesson for what I think makes my life infinitely easier in the kitchen (of course I am not a professional chef but I have been around enough chefs to glean a few tricks that really move things along).

1. Sharp knife.  I can not recommend enough buying one good knife - 6 inches or so.  Heavy enough that it leads your hand through whatever you are chopping but not so heavy that you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome after 3 minutes of chopping.  Sharpen this knife at least every other time you do some serious chopping.  This probably sounds excessive but there is no point in shelling out for a good knife and then letting the blade go dull.  I think the best and cheapest sharpener out there is found at Ikea.  I have taken to traveling with my chef’s knife (in the suitcase not hand luggage, obviously!) and the nifty Aspekt sharpener because I can not abide using a dull knife and trying to saw through an onion or even worse squashing tomatoes when I try to slice through them! 

2. Use a damp cloth to stop your chopping board from sliding around the counter.  

3. Make sure that your work space is clutter free. 

4. Try to multitask.  If you are someone who can do that obviously, otherwise stick to one task because the last thing you want is pots bubbling over leading to huge washing up piles.  

5. Double up on recipes that freeze well - like this Bolognese sauce for example.  

6. Listen to music.  Sing off key and waggle your hips in an embarassing fashion.  

Now for the recipe:

Bolognese Sauce

1 kg beef mince

150 g pancetta (or smoked bacon rashers), cubed

3 small carrots, brunoised (fancy word for finely chopped)

2 sticks of celery, brunoised

2 small onions, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 a cup white wine

2 cans of plum tomatoes 

1 teaspoon of ancho chili powder (not essential, skip if you don’t have this)

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

salt and pepper


1. In a heavy bottomed wide pan, fry the onion until translucent and starting to soften, then add the garlic.  Add the pancetta and brown a little.  Add the celery and carrots and let them cook for around 3 minutes on a medium high heat, stirring often.  

2. Next, tip in the mince and begin to brown, stir often to prevent sticking.  The quality of your pan will dictate how much babysitting of the pot you have to do.  I swear by my SKK pans, they are extremely heavy but their heat distribution and non-stick attributes are excellent, especially as they are not extortionately priced.  I make sure that the meat is nicely browned at which point I tip out a good portion of the fat that has collected.  

3.  Then add the white wine and stir until it has evaporated.  Tip in the two cans of plum tomatoes and squash the tomatoes a little with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add salt and pepper.  Be generous with the salt.  

4.  Let all this sit on a medium heat so that it is simmering, not boiling for about 30 to 40 minutes.  You can pretty much just look in on it every 10 to 15 minutes at this point.  Or you can put it in the oven at 170 C and let it do it’s thing in there.  When it’s done, throw in the parsley. 

That’s it!  Portion it up into servings of 1 and 2 and freeze.  You can heat up multiples of that depending on your needs.  Or serve the whole lot straight away - tradition says you should serve Bolognese with penne pasta but serve it up with whatever you want or have in your kitchen!  

Sharp eyed readers will notice the conspicuous absence of a plate, piled high with penne Bolognese.  That is because we ended up going out for dinner.  When I do heat up the sauce though, I will update this post with a picture!

*”Symptoms of Type A Behavior

  1. Time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation.
  2. Free floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents.
  3. Competitive, this made them oriented towards achievement which caused them to become stressed due to wanting to be the best at whatever it may be i.e. sports or in work.”

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2 Responses to Bolognese Sauce

  1. Tes says:

    I love those tips you listed! They are really useful! The bolognese recipe sounds simple and delicious!
    Thanks for sharing,

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