Ian’s Pasta Sauce Recipe

Right, I’m going to try to write about something other than bloody computers for once and share a recipe for a pasta sauce that I think I’m quite good at. I think that it’s classed as a ragout, I’m hesitant to call it a Bolognese as it has whole tomatoes in it rather than tomato puree and beef stock and if I did, I’d probably offend the whole city of Bologna and have a Nonna from there chase me down the road with a pickaxe. Anyway, it’s a good recipe and it generally goes down very well with my family when I do it. It’s a lot better than buying a jar of Dolmio or similar, it tastes better and you have a better idea of what’s actually in it!

Serves 6-8. It freezes well so if you don’t have 6-8 people to give this to, just put the leftover sauce in the freezer.

Ingredients

  • 500g Minced beef, 15-20% fat content
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large chilli pepper, finely chopped (Optional)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 50g hard garlic sausage such as salami, finely chopped. If you’re in the UK, Pepperami is a good one to use
  • 100ml red wine
  • Some herbs such as basil and oregano. Fresh preferably but dried will do too.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mild olive oil

Method

Put a large pan on a medium to high heat. Heat around 2 tbsp of the olive oil until it’s very hot. Add the onion, pepper, chilli if you’re using it and the garlic sausage and fry it all for around five minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Make sure that you stir the mixture constantly so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the tomato puree and fry for another couple of minutes.

Add the beef mince and fry it until it’s browned. Add the grated carrot and cook for a minute. Add the red wine and let it simmer for about two minutes. Finally, add the chopped tomatoes and give the whole thing a good mix. Add a splash of water if you think it’s necessary. Bring the mixture to the boil then reduce the heat. Simmer for about 90 minutes to two hours or until most of the liquid has boiled off and the mixture thickens. Add the herbs and season the mixture with the salt and pepper towards the end.

Serve with your favourite pasta (I suggest tagliatelle) or with gnocchi. It’s quite good with an Italian hard cheese such as Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano grated over it.

I’m aware that this recipe is about as Italian as I am but I’m just end with “Buon appetito!”. Enjoy!

Variation

Sometimes I substitute the beef mince for sausages squeezed out of their skins. It’s very good with some of the flavoured sausages that you get in the more upmarket supermarket brands such as Taste the Difference or Finest (Other supermarket brands are available).

You can use this sauce for lasagnes and for pastistio. To make a pastistio, make up a quantity of the sauce and some cheese sauce. Cook some tubular pasta such as macaroni, penne or rigatoni. Mix it in with the pasta sauce and put the mixture into a ovenproof dish. Top it with the cheese sauce and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is browned. Take it out of the oven and let it stand for five minutes then serve.

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