Believe it or not, bolognese sauce is one of the most difficult pasta sauce I have ever tried to cook. As basic as it may sound, it took me years to find the perfect recipe.
After over 10 total failures, I gave up & for the past year I never cooked bolognese sauce at home. It always came out very watery & very meat-y; you could feel the chunks of minced meat in your mouth & the sauce never stuck to the pasta! NEVER!!
Three months ago; I felt really offended! Seriously?!! Bolognese sauce!! One of the most basic pasta sauces ever!! I challenged myself & my research trip started :)
I know what I was looking for; just needed guidance on the know-how:
The meat needs to be soft; melting in your mouth & totally integrated in the sauce while the sauce itself needs to be thick, rich & sticking to my pasta.
I tasted pasta bolognese in some of my favorite Italian restaurants. I researched almost every bolognese recipe on the Internet & finely reached the main trick!
THE SECRET TO A PERFECT BOLOGNESE SAUCE is to let the sauce simmer UNCOVERED for as long as needed for it to reduce & thicken meanwhile the meat totally breaks down & blends into it. I never actually simmered the sauce; I just added the tomato sauce, covered the pot for about 5 minutes until the meat was cooked through. MAJOR MISTAKE!!
While testing the recipe & making a couple of batches to reach the final one; another idea jumped into my mind that will make the taste even richer & also increase the nutritional value of the sauce; since the sauce will simmer for a long while, why not add more hidden veggies; they will melt in the sauce (so no veggie pieces in your mouth) taking it to a whole new level!
Nailed it, ha?
After spending years of pure bolognese frustration, I now have a favorite recipe to proudly & happily add to my recipe book.
& finally my kids ate homemade pasta bolognese!
VEGGIE LOADED CLASSICAL BOLOGNESE SAUCE
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1/2 cup celery very finely diced (see notes)
- 1/2 cup carrot grated
- 1/4 cup red pepper finely diced (see notes)
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 750 gm lean minced meat
- 1 400 gm can whole peeled tomato (see notes)
- 1 cup canned tomato sauce (see notes)
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 tbsp dried thyme or oregano
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
- salt & pepper
- Heat a large non stick saute pan on high heat until hot, add 2 tbsp olive & swirl to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Add the onion, celery, carrots, red pepper & garlic & sautee for about 5 minutes until they start to soften but not brown.
- Add the minced meat, stirring it with the veggies & breaking it down with the back of a wooden spoon until its totally blended with the veggies.
- Season the meat/veggie mixture with salt & pepper & cook until the meat is no longer red but not fully cooked.
- Crush the whole peeled tomato with a fork or give it a couple of pulses in a food processor until chopped/crushed.
- Lower the heat to medium & add the rest of the ingredients to the pan except the cheese & salt/pepper.
- Stir the mixture very well to dissolve the tomato paste & blend all the ingredients.
- Bring the sauce to a boil.
- Lower heat to low & simmer UNCOVERED for about 40-45 minutes until the sauce reduces & thickens.
- Turn off the heat. Add the parmesan cheese, stirr to dissolve well then adjust the salt/pepper seasoning.
- Serve immediately over pasta.
- The celery & red pepper should be very finely diced to melt into the sauce & not remain as whole pieces.
- Using canned whole peeled tomato & tomato sauce is HIGHLY recommended as they have a sweeter taste than fresh tomato. You can find both in any large supermarket.
- You have to simmer the sauce UNCOVERED not covered for the sauce to reduce & thicken into the right consistency.
- This recipe can be halved.