Marion from Limerick’s lifestyle blog asked me recently for an original “Italian Mamma” recipe for spaghetti bolognese. To be honest we rarely eat bolognese at home as we cook it in such large quantities in La Cucina and just bring some home when we need it. We obviously do a catering version in La Cucina as we are cooking for the masses but it is still quite traditional. It amazes me how popular this dish still is, we make a HUGE pot of it 3-4 times a week.

There are so many different recipes for “ragu bolognese”, especially between the north and south of Italy. In the south they don’t really eat it with spaghetti, they prefer to eat it with rigatoni as it is easier to eat as the meat lodges in the tubes, in the north they might prefer to eat it with fresh tagliatelle. I find it difficult to eat with spaghetti myself as the meat falls off the spaghetti and is always left at the bottom of the plate. This is where “scarpetta” comes in, where you clean the sauce on the plate with some bread. Not great manners but as they say “when in Rome……….” 

What you need for basic ragu:

55g butter or margarine

olive oil

1 carrot finely chopped

1 celery stick finely chopped

1 onion finely chopped

1 bayleaf finely chopped

250g minced beef ( some Italians use a mixture of minced veal and pork)

 1 glass red wine

2 – 3 tbsp tomato puree

salt and pepper

optional – Bru’s mother also uses cooked ham and parma ham(couple of slices of each finely chopped), other recipes use pancetta about 55g.

How to make it:

Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and add your carrot, celery, onion, bayleaf and your pancetta or parma ham if you are using it.

Fry gently for about 10 mins until the vegetables have softened

Add the minced meat  and season with salt & pepper , use a wooden spoon to break up the meat so that you have no big chunks .

Cook for about 15 minutes to brown the meat, then add the wine and cook for a few minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.

Stir in the tomato puree, you can add some water or stock here or a can of Italian tomatoes to make it a bit more saucy if you like.

Leave to simmer for about an hour and a half. Add more stock or hot water if your mixture becomes dry.

Cook your spaghetti in a pot of salted boiling water.

Mix together and serve and don’t forget your baguettes for “scarpetta”.