Much like Antonio Carluccio, I agree that what is often served up as ‘spaghetti bolognese’ in Britain should have no place on a dinner table. All too often, quickly cooked mince mixed with a jar of slightly synthetically flavoured tomato sauce is spooned on top of dry, claggy spaghetti and deemed an Italian classic.
For me, bolognese should be something made with love, cooked slowly over a few hours, with a few simply ingredients. This recipe, perfect for making in big batches for the winter months when you want a quick and tasty weeknight supper, revolves around the meat, milk and wine. It’s not 100% authentic per-se, and it may not pass the test in Bologna, but I love it and it beats anything out of a jar all day long.
Serves 4, with leftovers
- 500g minced beef
- 150g streaky bacon, chopped into lardons
- 25g chicken liver, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 2 sticks celery, finely diced
- 175ml whole milk
- 200ml red wine
- 400ml tinned plum tomatoes
In a casserole dish, over a low-medium heat, melt a large knob of butter and fry the bacon until the fat starts to render down. Once the fat stars to melt, add the onion and cook for a few minutes until soft, but not coloured. Then add the carrot and celery, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the beef and brown all over, before stirring in the chicken livers and cooking for a further 3-4 minutes before adding the milk. Bring this to a simmer and cook until almost all the milk has evaporated.
Once the milk has almost cooked off, add the wine and tomatoes, season and stir well. Place the lid on the casserole dish, place in an oven pre-heated to 120c, and cook for at least 4 hours until the sauce has reduced, and the meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender. Check on this every hour or so to make sure it’s not too dry.
To serve, toss with cooked rigatoni pasta, and finish with freshly grated parmesan.
For a slightly richer finish, stir through a good dash of double cream for the final 30 minutes of cooking.