This recipe is safe for Coumadin (warfarin) users.
This recipe is safe for those who are lactose intolerant.
This is a low sodium recipe.
GERD / Acid Reflux
This recipe contains GERD triggers and those with GERD may wish to avoid it.
This recipe is safe for those who are sensitive to gluten. Use gluten-free pasta in this dish.
"No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention." - Christopher Morley
Sauce Bolognese is the most popular dish in England. I have read estimates that the average Briton eats pasta with Bolognese at least once a week. Most of this is from a bottle, however. I had a conversation with an Italian recently – a woman who is an expert on Mediterrean diet - and she was aghast at this, saying that there was no such thing as "Sauce Bolognese" and what was generally referred to as "Bolognese" is actually Ragù - or more properly, Ragù Bolognese. She added that the British version resembled a true ragù poorly at best.
While she may be right about the difference between Sauce Bolognese and Ragu Bolognese, this sauce is something of an obsession in England: SpagBol as it is called. A recent food podcast that I follow gave over a full 10 minutes to discussing the topic with a rather lively debate (of which there was no solid conclusion on how it should be made).
It is one of the easiest sauces to make, however, and so, so delicious. Start to finish it takes only about 20 minutes of prep time for a fresh delicious sauce.
This version has been tweaked over the years to balance the sweetness and umami flavors while keeping it as simple as possible. You will see versions that call for a sofrito of onions, celery, and carrots, but I prefer mine without the celery. There are a few tips that make this version especially good:
1. Mashing the carrots gently blends them into the dish and helps both sweeten and thicken the sauce.
2. Using 90/10 ground beef (10% fat content) rather than extra lean (5% fat) or regular ground beef (20% fat) is the perfect balance of fat vs. protein and helps make the sauce neither too greasy nor too dry.
3. Adding the tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce near the end of the cooking keeps their flavors at the forefront, with added umami and unctuous sweet tones.
4. Simmer for at least two hours.
The sauce keeps well and freezes well, so make a double (or triple) batch.
Servings: 2 | Serving size: about 1 1/2 cups sauce with 2 ounces pasta.
Cooking time: 2 hours
This recipe can easily be multiplied. This recipe keeps well for up to 3 days in the refrigerator and freezes well. Make extra!
Place the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the onion, carrots, and garlic.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened slightly.
Add the ground beef.
Cook until the beef is browned. Stir frequently.
Add the water, salt, pepper, tarragon, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, and sage.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for two hours. Each time you stir, gently mash the carrots with the back of a spoon to crush them. If the liquid reduces below about 1/2 cup, add water 1/4 cup at a time.
After the sauce has simmered for two hours, add the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce.
Stir and simmer 15 minutes while you make the pasta (below).
When the sauce is nearly done, place the water in a large sauce pan over high heat. When it boils add the pasta and cook until it is just tender. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Cook over low heat, tossing frequently, for about 2 minutes. Serve.
Serving size: about 1 1/2 cups sauce with 2 ounces pasta
Amount Per Serving
|Calories 500||Calories from Fat 144|
|% Daily Value|
|Total Fat 16g||20%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||25%|
|Monounsaturated Fat 7g|
|Trans Fat 0g|
|Total Carbohydrates 60g||22%|
|Dietary Fiber 9g||32%|
|Vitamin A 59%||Vitamin C 16%|
|Calcium 6%||Iron 32%|
|Vitamin K 20mcg||Potassium 1200mg|