Spaghetti Bolognese. A standard on dinner tables across the country. I know that the traditional “Aussie” version is a couple.of steps removed from the original, traditional “Italian” version. I wanted to say that up front so that it’s clear what I’m talking about. My version of the delicious, Aussie meal served on family tables for generations..
Most kids love spaghetti. The twirling. The slurping. The mess! My three boys were a different story. My youngest didn’t even like pasta. My middle son ate just about anything. My eldest (Lee) loved pasta but only bolognese sauce from a can! You’ve got to have pretty thick skin as a mum that’s for sure. Luckily they’ve all grown up, along with their palate. Now I get to cook this delicious bolognese recipe sauce for a more appreciative audience and I’m excited to share it with you.
This sauce is delicious. Flavourful, simple, healthy and quick!
The extra flavour comes from step one. Browning the beef first extracts all the juices into the pan that you use to cook the veggies. Olive oil is great (especially my infused olive oil) but having a pan full of the delicious juices from prime beef mince adds so much. Another tip to add a bunch of flavour is to use some of my Tomato Relish, either a couple of big spoons of the relish itself or, if you’re nearing the end of a jar, just pour in the juices left in the jar at the end. It’s a great use for the leftover juice and adds some of the delicious depth of our relish’s flavours.
The simplicity comes from the ability to cook everything in one pot. While there’s a couple of extra steps to get that boost of beefy flavour it’s pretty much still a one-pot wonder. You just need a bowl to hold the browned beef mince.
The combination of healthy and sneaky is a mum’s dream dish. It’s been a long-known fact that a Bolognese is a great way to sneak veggies into your kids’ diets. This one is no different. Of course, we know veggies are essential and super healthy but they also add such a fullness of flavour that you’ve got to get them in where you can. I usually go with carrots and celery but you can add whatever. Zucchini, baby spinach and mushrooms are great additions too. Just grate or finely chop them. Cooking them first, in the beef fat, helps them break down even further and makes it easier to incorporate (hide).
Another tick in the healthy column is that by browning the beef first you extract a lot of the fat. This means two things. Firstly, you get to control the amount of fat used in the cooking. If you oil the pan, fry the garlic and onion and then add the beef you’ve got the fat from the oil and then the fat from the beef all stuck in the big mix of ingredients. Browning it first gives you a chance to remove excess fat from the pan at the start. It also means you don’t have to pay extra for lean mince, you’re taking the fat out yourself, rather than paying a butcher to do it for you.
Finally this bolognese recipe is speedy. Cooking each part of the dish separately might seem contrary to that but it actually speeds up the whole process. The time spent simmering in the pan is just for combining. Allowing all of the flavours to reduce down together into one delicious sauce. The roux made with the veggies and flour helps to make sure the sauce thickens as it reduces.
It’s such a delicious sauce that I use it for my lasagna as well. It may not be traditional but it’s so beefy and full that it works! Check out my tips for cooking pasta here and my full lasagna recipe here.
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- 500g beef mince
- 1 small brown onion (diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (diced)
- 1 carrot (grated)
- 1 stick celery (diced)
- 1 handful baby spinach (finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 4 Roma tomatoes (diced). A tin of diced tomatoes does the same job here.
- 125ml beef stock
Step by Step Instructions
Place beef in a heavy-based saucepan. Turn on medium heat. Starting beef in a cold pan allows the fat to render slowly from the beef and prevents sticking.
Cook beef until lightly browned, stirring to break up any lumps.
Using a slotted spoon, remove mince from the pan and drain.
Using approximately 2 tablespoons of the beef fat, cook the onions and garlic only until onions are translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
Add carrots and celery to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add flour to the pan and stir through.
Return mince to the pan and stir to combine all ingredients.
Add tomatoes and stock and stir through.
Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce is combined and thick.