I use extra lean mince for this bolognese to reduce the amount of fat. Not only is it kinder to the waistline but I think if the sauce is too fatty it tends to be a bit claggy and thick. I’ve also used turkey mince which is an even lighter option. I like my spag bol to be a chunky mix of veggies and mince meat but the tomato sauce must be runny. When heaped on a spoon you should be able pour it off, a bit like a hearty soup.
Passata is essentially pureed tomatoes that have been strained so all the seeds and bits are removed. You can get it in the Sauce aisle in most supermarkets in 700ml jars. If you can’t get Passata then canned tomatoes or even tomato paste would do the trick. If you were going to use paste then I recommend heating the tomato paste up before using to help get rid of any bitterness (see recipe). I also add a couple of fresh tomatoes for a bit (but not too much) of chunk.
I generally serve this with either Fettuccine or Spaghetti. I like using the freshest pasta I can get my hands on and sometimes we make our own but the processed stuff does the job when you can’t get anything else. To cook pasta I take a large pot of water and bring to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling I add a good handful of salt. I leave the burner on high and the lid off, a good roiling boil will cook the pasta evenly and quickly. Check instructions on the pack for cooking time, and test a minute or so before to see if it is done. Drain all but a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking water and return to the pot. Add a handful of Parmesan Cheese and a fleck of butter and mix it through. The butter and cheese will mix with the water and coat the pasta causing the sauce to stick to the pasta more.
When it comes to red wine in cooking I tend to just use whatever is open in the fridge. A bit leftover in a bottle from the weekend is easily enough for this dish, if not it’s a good excuse to open one! 😉 My only rule with using wine is that you should never cook with one that you are not prepared to drink. Red wine adds a beautiful warmth to this bolognese but you could also replace it with a nice chicken or beef stock and get a similar effect.
I use the Le Creuset for this because it goes from stove top to oven in a flash. You could use a slow cooker or even an electric frypan that enables you to set it to a low temperature. Be sure to check on it intermittently to ensure it doesn’t burn.
Now to the recipe…
Fabulous slow-cooked “Spag Bog”
500g extra lean preservative free beef mince
3 rashers of bacon (short cut, fat removed)
garlic to taste
4 small carrots
2 pieces of celery
1 yellow onion
handful of olives, pits removed
1/2 bottle red wine
1 bottle organic tomato passata
2 bay leaves
1 tbspn dried oregano
1 tbspn brown sugar
Fresh basil leaves – washed and torn
Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees.
Chop bacon, onion, celery, carrot and zucchini into small, evenly sized pieces.
Heat 1 part butter, 1 part olive oil in large heavy based pan.
Cook onions and garlic slowly until yellow and transparent – put the lid on for a couple of minutes to get it nice and steamy.
Add bacon and fry until colour changes.
Add carrots. Cook for a couple of minutes – until the onions start to turn orange.
Add celery. Cook for another couple of minutes.
Add olives and zucchini. Cook for a few minutes until everything is heated through and bubbling.
Push veggie mix over to one side of the pan, to make room for the mince. Allow the juices from the bacon and veggie mix to drip back down to where you put the mince.
Add mince to the pan in batches and fry til colour changes. Mix through with veggies.
** If you were using tomato paste I would add it to the mix and heat through now to help reduce any bitterness.
Pour in red wine and tomato passata.
Chop Tomatoes roughly and add to the pot.
Season with salt, pepper, bay leaves, oregano and sugar.
Stir through well.
Put lid on and put in the oven for about 2 hours hours. Stir after the first hour.
Return to the stove top and cook on a medium heat to reduce the excess liquid down into a beautifully rich sauce.
Serve with fresh cooked pasta and garnish with torn fresh basil leaves and grated Parmesan cheese.
Average per serve:
3.3g sat. fat