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Your own variants of Bersketti b,ollocknaked

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by modelmaker, Oct 21, 2011.

  1. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    I have never been to Bolongna, so I can't say with any authority whether my spag bol is better or worse than that eaten in the place it gives it's name to. All I can say is that I have grown very attached to my British version and was disappointed when served in southern France, what I was assured by the restaurant was an authentic spahetti alla bolgnese. I felt it was nothing like the real fing wot I made.
    A typical bol in my house includes mince, onions, pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, carrot, celery, a little chilli basil and oregano, plus some beef stock. It's a fairly moist mix but not watery. Instead of the sauce being tossed through the pasta, it gets plonked on top with some cheese above that.
    I made some yesterday, initially without any mushrooms. I'd had mushrooms for it but in a last minute change of plan the previous day, I cooked them with cream to accompany some lamb chops, but they became overlooked when the meal was served and relegated to the fridge after they were rediscovered when washing up became due.
    So I used them with my spag bol, except I warmed them through as they were, added the cheese to them and plonked them alongside the meat sauce this time. The result was two entirely different pasta dishes within the same meal for the price of one.
    But enough of my silliness in the kitchen, how do you cook yours, and do you care less how authentic it is?
  2. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    I use a mix of whatever is available from the following list (those in brackets optional)
    Fresh herbs
    Red wine
    Seasoning (including adrop of Balsamic)
    Followed by about 5 hours in the Aga!
    It is delicious, however Henriette tells me 'ragu' is made from only 3 ingredients - mince, tomato (passata?) and onions or garlic (never both). I think S&P don't count as one of the three! She then says cook for a long time.
    Well, I tried this method (but did use garlic and onion and some fresh herbs - can't remember her take on the herbs, soz H!) and cooked it in the Aga for 7 hours. It was nice, but IMO lacked the depth of flavour from adding bacon/wine/other veggies. H says this is traditional in the part of Italy she was in, but I'm pretty sure the recipe changes all over Italy and I know for a fact Antonio Carluccio has a very different recipe.
    Sorry H, it was nice but a little......bland. I shall revert to adding a <strike>bottle</strike> glass or red to mine!

  3. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    What a pity it didn't hit the mark for you.
    Yes, this is what I was taught to make in Bologna itself, and it is what we eat on an almost weekly basis.
    I use 1 bulb garlic, 500g mince, 2 cartons passata and a handful of dried herbs + seasoning. I see no reason not to add a splosh of wine (to the pan as well as the cook!), but would never add other vegetables (especially in chunks) to it - it would resemble the dreaded "Savoury Mince" they served at school!
  4. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    Is there an 'authentic' mince to use?
    As a child, I remember Mum using half/half (half pork half beef) mince from the butcher for her version. ....her version is far from'authentic'. she learned cooking in a variety of countries but never Italy!
    Today she only uses beef mince - as do I.
    I always use both onions and garlic - lots and lots and lots of garlic!
    I'll accept mushrooms, but am happier without them.
    My sister adds carrots and peas to hers [​IMG] - supposedly to 'sneak' veg into her daughters' diet...but she did it before they arrived!
  5. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    I use beef
    Mine, too -her Spaghetti Bolognese really is more like savoury mince than anything else as she doesn't use garlic and uses tinned tomatoes which leave it watery as she doesn't leave it long enough to dry out!
  6. My recipe is a bish-bash of the recipe I had to use in Food Tech at school, and the way my parents make it.
    Onions (preferably red) and garlic (only one big clove, or 2 smaller ones)
    tin of chopped tomatoes and a huge squeeze of tomato pure or a box of passata
    liberal sprinkling of various herbs
    generous glug of whatever red wine is sitting at the site of the stove
    salt and pepper.

    I don't like parmasan, so that isn't on the top of mine, but if I'm eating it as left overs the day after I put grated cheddar on top of it on top of toast :)

    We also make a 'savoury mince' (no other fancy name for it), which is made using stock and branston pickle instead of the tomatoes and herbs. :)
  7. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    This sounds very similar to my recipe. I've never thought to try red onions though.
    I always add green peppers and sometimes mushrooms. My current diet version has grated carrot added to make it go further.
    Herbs have to be basil and oregano though - in a 2:1 ratio.
    I use tinned toms but add a tablespoon of flour after browning the mince to thicken it.
    I think the recipe came from my Mum's Constance Spry cooking book but it will have evolved over the years.
  8. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    MM, it would be helpful for you to describe what it was like!!
  9. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    I'd say it was pretty much as Belle and Henriette described. Very simple, far less meat than I'd use and no complexity of flavour in the sauce.

  10. henriette

    henriette New commenter

    An Italian woudl say that we put waaay too much sauce on our pasta: it is meant as a "seasoning", not to drown the pasta out!
  11. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    The veggies I add to my bolognese I chop until they are teeny, tiny pieces, maybe the size of a grain of rice (actaully I use a hand processor/chopper to do this.......too much like hard work myself). That way I get the flavours and the depth of flavour I found missing, plus it bulks the whole lot out so the meat goes a long way further and gets much needed veg into Mr Belle's difficult to feed offspring. I can assure you H it bears no resemblence at all to 'savoury mince' of any description.
    Your 'recipe' was good H, don't get me wrong, but I did miss the addition of wine (to the food that is, not me!). I'll give it another go.
  12. egyptgirl

    egyptgirl Senior commenter

    I make a huge batch of savoury plain mince and use it for a couple of different things. To make it into a bolognese, I add celery, lots of garlic, a couple of rashers of chopped up smoked bacon, red wine, beef stock and chopped tomatoes. I used to make it with beef shin but C says that it wasn't bolognese but beef stew...so I had to revert back to minced beef.
  13. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    I read somewhere that it was the French who came up with the 'official' recipe. There are probably as many variants as there are families but I find the English version heavier on the meat than the sauces I've eaten in Italian restaurants or by Italian friends.

  14. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Reading through Italian cookery books, an authentic ragu often contains the carrots and celery mentioned above and differs from the more British bolognese in that it contains a lot less in the way of tomatoes and also includes white wine and milk and a grating of nutmeg. I've made this a few times and while nice, I prefer a really rich tomatoey ragu.
    An authentic ragu also often contains mixture of minced veal and pork, but as well as minced veal being hard to come by in this country, I prefer beef to veal anyway as it has more taste.
    My bol, entirely inauthentic, but who cares:
    Pancetta, fried and removed. Onions, garlic and chopped rosemary softened and removed. Brown mince quite hard so it really caramelises rather than just goes a bit grey. Remove. Add glass of red wine, boil hard so it reduces to almost nothing, scraping residue up. Add meat and veg again and tinned toms (Napolina or nothing) and a whole tube of tom puree (inauthentic but this gives it a lot of richness). Salt, pepper, nutmeg. Oven on low for at least 3 hours. Fresh basil at the end.
    I agree with MM in that whilst pasta should be stirred through the sauce, I do like the British tradition of dolloping it on top. I favour tagliatelle. Lots of parmesan please.
    I do sometimes add a star anise to my bol - a tip I think I read Heston B mentioning once. It does add a really interesting depth to the sauce and the aniseed doesn't seem strange at all. Entirely inauthentic I know!
    I think the secret to a good bol, regardless of ingredients is slow cooking. At least 2 hours, preferably 3, 4 or even 5. I've had mates cook me spag bol that they've made in 30 minutes from start to finish, and it shows. Watery, thin and lacking in any depth at all.
  15. Reminded me of the Spag Bol episode in Heston's In Search Of Perfection. Looked amazing but talk about complicated!
  16. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    White wine is far better than red, which makes for a heavy-tasting sauce, in my experience.
    When times are lean, I've been known to replace the white wine with a capful of wine vinegar. It gives the sauce a lift, at any rate.
    I learned from the anti-hero in the film Goodfellas. My sb sauce gets a good long slow cooking on top of the stove.
    It's fun to experiment with different pastas - I love it with twists.
    I'll try the nutmeg. So far I've stuck with good old oregano and, sometimes, a pinch of chilli flakes. It's nice with milk from time to time, I agree.
  17. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    I think white wine is the [probably French] norm, as far as there can be a norm when every family has its own version.
  18. Bolognaise is a French word.
    Italians call it ragu.
  19. modelmaker

    modelmaker Lead commenter

    It was actually this that inspired me to make the OP. Spaghetti Bolognese is a generic term for a dish we all cook our own way, often bearing scant resemblance to it's origins.
    It would make for an interesting TV programme. Take half a dozen home cooks from Britain and half a dozen home cooks from Bologna and get them to cook the dish their own particular way. Have a panel of judges made up from Joe Public of both Britain and Bologna to assess the results.
  20. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    The trouble is often the tomatoes.
    I have taken to using posh [ie not from concentrate] tomato juice when I cook. Of course, I add puree to thicken it and often mix it with good quality canned tomatoes.

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