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Family Meal - the Best Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

By Yvette Vignando - 28th September 2011

If I had to name just one recipe that is a family staple in our house it would be Spaghetti Bolognaise. Or more correctly – Spaghetti Bolognese.   Since moving out of home, falling in love with a man of Italian origin and also falling in love with his Italian parents and family here, my version of this essential family dish has been refined to the point that I think I can boastfully say – this Bolognese sauce is as tasty and delicious as I can make it – I think it’s the best. I give credit to learning the basics from my mum, the refinements from my Italian mother in law, the taste from trips to Italy and the finer details from years of trial and error.

Because the sauce is able to be made in large quantities and is also easy to freeze and defrost, it’s a dish that I rely on for days I am too tired to think about dinner. And even better, the family seems to never tire of this relatively simple and inexpensive meal.

There are slower and more luxurious versions of this recipe but this is the simplest one and easiest for the whole family’s tastes. It can of course also be used for Lasagna sauce.

This is my recipe including the brand name I use for some products (and this post is not at all sponsored). I'd also love to read other people’s versions or variations, or let me know if you give this recipe a try. The quantities below are for half a kilo of meat but you can make this successfully by doubling or quadrupling quantities in a large pot with one or two kilos of meat.

Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients
500g minced lean organic beef (or half minced beef and half minced free range lean pork)
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped or crushed
1 red onion finely diced
1 large celery stalk finely diced
1 large carrot grated
1 (500ml) jar Aldi Organic pasta sauce (plain or with basil) or 1 (400g) tin Aldi Organic diced tomatoes
1 small tin Aldi Organic tomato paste
1 Massel chicken flavoured stock cube
½ teaspoon dried basil or about 6 leaves of fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Optional
1 fresh or dried bay leaf

Optional Vegetable additions (add at the stage the vegetables are being cooked)
125g chopped mushrooms, or
Half a diced red capsicum, or
Half a cup of frozen peas

Optional meat additions (add at the stage when the meat is almost fully browned)
2 rashers free range bacon diced, or
For some spice – 1 chopped chorizo sausage (cut into quarters and then sliced)

Method:

1.    Main pan: Pour approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a heavy based (preferably non-stick pan). This is the pan you will cook the sauce in so make sure it will hold all the ingredients. Heat the oil for about 3 minutes (not to the point of smoking).
2.    Vegetable pan: At same time pour approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil into another heavy based but smaller (preferably non-stick pan). Heat the oil for about 3 minutes (not to the point of smoking).
3.    Place the minced meat in the Main pan and stir over high heat until the meat is browned and there is not much liquid left in the pan. Add any other meat ingredient towards the end of this browning process. (If you add other meat, cook for 5 -7 more minutes)
4.    Place the carrot, onion, celery and garlic into the Vegetable pan and cook over a low heat , stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. I usually do this at the same time as browning the meat. If you are adding other vegetables, you can add them about 3 or 4 minutes into this cooking process. Turn off the heat once the onion is translucent.
5.    Add the vegetables to the browned meat and stir well. Reduce heat to medium.
6.    Add the jar of pasta sauce or the tin of diced tomatoes, add the tin of tomato paste, add the crumbled stock cube, add about 800ml or up to 1 litre of cold water. Stir well.
7.    Bring the mixture to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the bay leaf and the basil. Add the tablespoon of brown sugar (this sugar is optional but I find it reduces the sour flavour of some tomato-based sauces. ) Stir well.
8.    Once the mixture is simmering, reduce heat to the minimum needed to keep the sauce simmering at a low bubble. Keep the mixture uncovered. Stir occasionally and simmer for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour until the mixture has reduced and is thicker. Do not let the mixture dry out – there should still be a thick liquid sauce around the meat.
9.    NOTE: I do not find this sauce needs any additional salt. However, if you are a salt fiend, add no more than one teaspoon of iodised sea salt flakes at the same time as adding the bay leaf. You may also wish to add ground pepper.

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