The Perfect Bolognese

Friday was a BAD DAY.  I weighed in for the first time in 4 weeks and I’ve managed to put on half a stone.  HALF A STONE!  Yes, OK, I’ve been on holiday…but we never had pudding, we shared a starter twice and didn’t have any the rest of the time…I didn’t even have an ice-cream for the love of god!   I guess breakfasts of spankingly fresh baguettes, butter and nutella every day really took it’s toll.  I’ve also had boozy/eaty nights out this week including The Passage Cafe with @misswhiplash (I discovered calves liver – AMAZING – and the Best Bar in London aka The Nightjar on Old Street roundabout) and The Corner Room with my friend Andrew.

Over dinner, Andrew told me about The Perfect Bolognese which was mooted and published in the Guardian (linky here) and I decided to give it a shot.

It should be stated at this point: FatFran does not like bolognese.  FatFran just doesn’t like tomatoey things, generally speaking.  My previous method for making bolognese was this: lamb mince, bacon, tomatoes, a whole tin of tomato puree, best part of a bottle of red wine, herbs etc etc.  Incredibly rich, heavy, heady and tomatoey.  A little bit of it was OK and others like it a lot, but it really wasn’t for me.

So, if I don’t like bolognese, why on earth would I want to make it? you might wonder.  Simple.  I wanted to use my Spong mincer again!

The Perfect Bolognese (serves 5 FatFrans – i.e. pasta with only a little bit of sauce – 4 portions for most people)

The most exciting bit was mincing my meat!  I used 250g of beef braising steak.

I love doing this.  I could happily only eat minced products if it meant I could use it every day.  It’s SO MUCH FUN.  I used the coarse mincing plate and I think this was definitely the right thing to do.

Next, I prepared my vegetables, Delia styleeeeeee.  This is one onion, finely chopped, 1 carrot and 2 sticks of celery, finely diced.  I also finely diced 40g of lamb’s liver (it’s meant to be chicken liver but Ocado had entirely sold out so I made do.  I think that chicken livers would work better to be honest) and 100g of streaky bacon (around 7 rashers.)  Now I know what you’re thinking.  Streaky bacon isn’t exactly slimming.  However, if you’re making 5 portions, that’s around 1.5 rashers per portion – I can live with that.

Now for the cooking.  Put a good knob of butter (I used lurpak lighter) into a heavy based casserole (I don’t have one so I made it in a regular pan and transferred to a pyrex casserole later) and then very gently fry off the bacon for about 5 minutes, after which you add the onion.  Soften this without colouring for a few minutes, add the carrots, soften for 5 and then the celery.  After a few more minutes, it should look like this:

Then the meat goes in!  Brown off the mince and then add the liver.  It’s once the liver goes in that it starts to smell AWESOME. Meaty, savoury, deliciousness.

Once this has cooked out, add 150ml of milk (technically meant to be whole, I used semi-skimmed) and a good grating of nutmeg.

This needs to be simmered very gently until there is almost no milk left – it took around 20-25 minutes and I pre-heated the oven to 125c while this was going on.  Once that’s done, season with salt and pepper, pour in 150ml of white wine and a tin of plum tomatoes – add them whole, they will break down as it slow cooks.  Transfer to a casserole and pop it into the oven.  The lid of the casserole should be slightly off so that the steam can escape.

After 4 hours, it should look like this:

And here is the finished dish!  I know, my presentation leaves a bit to be desired:

It’s bloody delicious.  It’s quite a dry sauce and seriously meaty rather than over-tomatoey so is right up my street.  I really, really recommend that you make it.  YUM.  Next time I’m going to try it with half beef mince and half pork as I generally prefer the flavour of pork mince.  I will report back with my findings.

After working SO hard, I treated myself to pudding:

Cheers!
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7 thoughts on “The Perfect Bolognese

  1. You probably won't be too surprised to find this out, but I don't think that the bolognese looks very appealing. Not at all.On the other hand your pudding looks extremely nice. What was it like? I've never had Monbazillac, but I love botrytised wines so I imagine I'd like it.

  2. It was delicious ACTUALLY. But I see that liver and co probably don't look that nice to a vegetarian.Pudding wine – sweeter than I'm used to, very sticky and not citrussy at all. It's nice but not one that you can drink tons of – I've still got a bit left as I can only manage a smallish glass at a time…which is probably no bad thing. Muscat/sauternes I can drink until the cows come home. What the hell is "botrytised" wine?

  3. Botrytised wine == made from mouldy grapes.More precisely it's made from gapes infected by the botrytis cinerea fungus, also known as noble rot. The fungus penetrates the grapes' skin and allow the moisture escape, with the result that they end up looking like very manky raisins (google for images of botrytised grapes, they are really grim).When you make wine with these grapes reduced water levels mean you have much more concentrated sugars and acid giving you a great base for a sweet wine, and the noble rot itself adds a honeyed flavour to the wine.Most of the great sweet wines are botrytised. Sauternes and Tokaj both are.

  4. Pingback: Week 16 | FatFranGetsFin

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