Cookbook Challenge: Week 47, Italian


Recipe: A really good spaghetti bolognese
From: Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries

The theme for the Cookbook Challenge this week is “Italian”, and after a lot of hunting through my cookbooks, I decided to make bolognese. Normally I don’t follow a recipe for bolognese, but for the purposes of the Cookbook Challenge, I decided I would for once.

Unsurprisingly, I had a few recipes to choose from, and I decided on a Nigel Slater version from The Kitchen Diaries. I’ve posted before about my love for Nigel Slater before, so I had very high hopes for this recipe.

Bolognaise Bolognese

My high hopes were sadly dashed when I tasted the bolognese I had made from his recipe. Oh sad day! There was too much wine and I added too much nutmeg, and it gave the sauce a nasty, nasty edge. I had to tinker with it a lot before I was satisfied that it was edible. I added extra canned tomatoes, tomato puree, Worchester sauce, and sugar. There was lots and lots of tinkering, lots of tasting, and a huge handful of hoping.

I suspect that it was my fault in adding too much nutmeg that made the bolognese originally taste nasty, but I’ve given some suggested changes to the recipe below. I’m happier blaming the failure on myself than St Nigel but I’m glad I was able to salvage the bolognese in the end!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.


A really good spaghettie Bolognese

50g butter
70g cubed pancetta (I used bacon)
a medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 stalks celery, washed and finely diced
2 large (about 100g) mushrooms, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
400g minced beef or lamb
200ml crushed tomatoes or passata (I recommend doubling this)
200ml red wine (I recommend half this amount)
200ml stock
a nutmeg (I recommend leaving this out, or only grating in a tiny amount)
salt and pepper
200ml full cream milk (I recommend half this amount)

To serve:
spaghetti or tagliatelle for 4
grated Parmesan

Melt the butter in a heavy based pan. Stir in the pancetta and let it cook for five mins.

Add the onion and garlic, and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the carrot, celery and mushrooms and stir. Tuck in the bay leaves and leave to cook for ten minutes over a medium heat. Stir frequently.

Turn up the heat. When the pan is relatively hot, tip in the meat, breaking it up well with a fork. Leave it to cook without stirring for three to four minutes. When the meat on the bottom is starting to brown, stir again, breaking up the meat where necessary and leave it to colour.

Mix in the tomatoes, red wine, stock, a grating of nutmeg and salt and pepper. Bring the liquid up to a boil, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer.

Partially cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 1-1 & 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. If it looks dry, add more liquid.

Pour in the milk a bit at a time, stir and let it cook for another 20 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper (and maybe a bit of sugar if necessary) and serve with pasta and grated Parmesan.