Not-so-traditional bolognese

One last essay *sob*, I’m almost there…Just taking a break at the moment!

Now, my family, having mostly grown up with my mother’s cooking, are quite unadventurous when it comes to food. My father will only eat Korean/Chinese/Japanese cuisine, the only other foods he enjoys are pizza, subs (and even then it’s only the teriyaki chicken sub) and fried chicken. Mom is willing to try different things, but can’t stand anything that is oily/greasy, creamy, or generally too rich. My sister and brother, after years of being subjected to my experiments, are more happy to eat most foods, but still err on the conservative side. Oh, did I mention that my sister cannot bear the taste of seafood? The only thing from the sea that she eats is either dried seaweed sheets (called ‘kim’ in Korean), or a seaweed broth (called Mi-yohk-guk in Korean). What this generally means is that I have no opportunity to cook more ‘exotic’ things (and by exotic, I mean such as a herb-stuffed roast chicken!!!) as they most probably won’t get eaten.

However, with dad away in South Korea this week on a business trip, I decided to make a bolognese for dinner earlier this week, and just threw in almost anything that I could find in the pantry and fridge. It’s not exactly quick, but does make for an intensely flavoured, hearty meal for a cold winter’s night!

Ingredients (makes about 10 servings, and freezes well)

Approximately 500g lean beef mince
100g bacon, diced
250g field mushrooms, cleaned and diced
2 large brown onions, diced
1 red capsicum, deseeded and diced
1 green capsicum, deseeded and diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1l bottle of italian tomato puree
1 cup chicken stock or red wine
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp dried thyme
5-10 dried or fresh bay leaves

1. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a large pot till onions are starting to become translucent.

2. Add the beef mince and bacon and cook till brown, making sure to continuously work the mince so it does not form large clumps.

3. Add the capsicum and mushroom, and stir through till well combined.

4. Add the tomato paste and stir through till it is well combined.

5. Add the sugar, chicken stock/wine and the tomato puree to the pot, stirring through till well mixed. Add the thyme and bay leaves and stir through.

6. Lower the heat to low and maintain the mixture at a very gentle simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour, till it has thickened up.

I like to serve bolognese with a spiral pasta as I find it’s better at clinging to the sauce than your usual spaghetti. This sauce may seem a bit confused, but then again, so am I! The addition of vegetables means that it’s going to have a lot more of those good things like vitamins, as well as providing a variety of texture when you’re eating it. The herbs definetely help to boost flavour as well as providing a delicious, heady scent whilst it’s being cooked and once it has been served – however, be careful when serving as actually biting into a bay leaf isn’t the most pleasant experience in the world!

[tags]bolognese, pasta sauce, pasta, savoury mince, Italian[/tags]


  1. michele says:

    this may not be “traditional” — but who cares as long as it tastes good to you…?! although I would stick with calling it a ragu, the catch-all for any meat sauce, instead of calling it a Bolognese. while every family has its own recipe for Bolognese, they all share a few techniques (most importantly, cooking off a series of liquids after browning the meat) and ingredients (you need wine — and never, ever ginger or peppers)…but again, if your family enjoys it, why not name it after yourself instead of some town in Italy with its own recipe?

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