Serves: 6

As much as I would like to cook something different and a little bit fancy each night, that trick doesn’t always work around here.

When Nat wants comfort and the boys want comfort, that’s what you do.

This bolognese is the best of both worlds.

It’s comfortable and yet, with the excellent soffritto and four or five hours of cooking time, it is certainly on the fancier side of bolognese. Sizzler buffet this is not.

Next time, I’d try to dial it up further with some milk to the soffritto and maybe some anchovies; perhaps veal and pork mince rather than just beef, though the bacon makes a nice touch.

As it was, it was more than fine.

The boys wolfed it down and Oliver asked for it in his lunchbox. Nat said it was the best she has ever had.

This dish won’t change the world though I know I will be asked to cook it again and again and I can certainly live with that!

Ingredients

Olive oil
40g butter
2 medium carrots, diced small
3 medium brown onions, diced small
4 bacon rashers cut into fingernail size tiles
2 celery sticks, diced small
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped and crushed
3 tbsp tomato paste
1kg beef mince
1 lemon; 4cm piece of peel/rind and then halved for juicing
500ml red wine
3 bay leaves
Splash Worcestershire sauce
2 cans tinned tomatoes
500ml beef stock

1 large pack of egg tagliatelle
150g Italian parmesan cheese, grated
1 loaf crusty bread and a green salad for serving

Method

  1. For the soffritto: Heat a heavy pan over a low-medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and the butter and heat.
  2. Saute the onion, carrots and bacon. After a few minutes, add in the celery and cook the vegetables slowly until translucent. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and stir through. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for a further few minutes.
  3. Set the soffritto aside in a bowl.
  4. Add more olive oil to the pan and when hot, brown the mince. Add the browned meat to the soffritto.
  5. Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with the red wine. When the wine has reduced by half, add back the meat, soffritto, bay leaves and a couple of good dashes of Worcestershire sauce, lemon peel, tomatoes and stock. Stir.
  6. Season with salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice from one half of the lemon. Reserve the other lemon half.
  7. Bring to the boil covered, remove the lid and turn the heat right down. Cook gently for four hours, turning occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn. Finish the red wine left over in the bottle and put your feet up.
  8. Taste, season and get it thick, rich and dark.
  9. Cook your pasta, make your salad, grate your cheese, break the bread and enjoy!

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