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Pasta Bolognese (“Alla Ragu”)

Pasta Bolognese
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Bolognese sauce, known in Italian as ragù alla bolognese, is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. In Italian cuisine, it is customarily used to dress “tagliatelle al ragù” and to prepare “lasagne alla bolognese”. In the absence of tagliatelle, it can also be used with other broad, flat pasta shapes, such as pappardelle or fettuccine, or with short tube shapes, such as rigatoni or penne. Genuine ragù alla bolognese is a slowly cooked sauce, and its preparation involves several techniques, including sweating, sautéing and braising. Ingredients include a characteristic soffritto of onion, celery and carrot, different types of minced or finely chopped meat (generally bovine, including beef, and possibly pork, such as pancetta), wine and a small amount of tomato concentrate.

The earliest documented recipe of an Italian meat-based sauce (ragù) served with pasta comes from late 18th century Imola, near Bologna. In 1891 Pellegrino Artusi first published a recipe for a meat sauce characterized as being “bolognese”. In Italy, ragù alla bolognese is often referred to simply as ragù.

Outside Italy, Bolognese sauce often refers to a tomato-based sauce to which mince (beef or pork) has been added; such sauces typically bear little resemblance to ragù alla bolognese. Whereas in Italy ragù is not used with spaghetti, so-called spaghetti bolognese has become a popular dish in many other parts of the world.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

 500g Fresh Beef Mince.
 400g Dried Spaghetti.
 Optional: 4 Rashers of Smoked Streaky Bacon, finely diced.
 2 Tins of Plum/Chopped Tomatoes.
 6 Fresh Cherry Tomatoes.
 2 Medium Onions, peeled and finely diced.
 2 Sticks of Celery, trimmed and finely diced.
 2 Carrots, trimmed and finely diced.
 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely diced.
 1 Medium Chilli (optional), seeded and finely sliced
 75g Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, plus extra for grating over.
 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
 1 Beef Stock Cube.
 Glass of red wine (optional)
 2-3 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary.
 Handful of Fresh Basil, plus extra for Garnish.
 1 tsp Dried Oregano.
 1-2 Fresh Bay Leaves.
 Olive oil.
 Sea Salt and Black Pepper.

DIRECTIONS

1. Get yourself a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, and place it on a medium heat. Add a good lug of olive oil and gently fry your bacon until golden and crisp, then reduce the heat slightly and add your onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Next remove the leaves from the Rosemary sprigs and add them to the pot, discarding the sprigs. Move everything around and fry for around 8-10 minutes until the veg has softened.
2. Next, increase the heat slightly, add the mince and stir until the meat is browned all over.
3. Stir in your tins of plum/chopped tomatoes, (plum tomatoes are best as they contain less water, but either will turn out great!). Add your remaining herbs, tomato puree, stock cube, chilli and if using, the wine. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half and throw them in as well.
4. Give everything a stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up the plum tomatoes as you go and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to low-medium, put the lid on and leave it blipping away for about an hour and 15 minutes until the flavor’s develop into a wonderfully rich tomatoes sauce. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t catch.
5. Just as the sauce is nearly ready, Add the parmesan and season to taste. Meanwhile add salt to a pan of boiling water and cook the spaghetti. Once the spaghetti is ready, drain it in a colander and add it to the pan with the sauce. Give it all a good stir, coating the pasta in the lovely tomato sauce. Serve with a little grated parmesan and use the extra basil leaves to make a great little garnish

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