Spaghetti Bolognese is overrated, uneventful and quite simply boring as hell. Big statement but hear me out. I've never liked 'Spag Bol', mainly due to my father sickening me as a child by not letting me leave the table until it was finished (something which I can now relate to with a stubborn 3 yr old). I believe the demise of the traditional Bolognese is partly due to an annoyingly catchy sauce brand that has caused this much loved dish to be been ruined by convenience and great advertising. Bolognese, especially the jarred variety, is very much the poor relative to the rich, ballsy, meaty Ragu sauce. A ragu is more of a meat stew rather than a tomato sauce with added meat. Granted it takes a little more time but surprisingly not much more effort to make. Once the veg is prepared all that is really needed is to place everything in a large pot and placed into an oven for 4 hours.
You can even prepare more than is needed as this is a sauce that can be frozen in batches and reheated in 5 minutes for a quick midweek meal served with pasta, polenta, gnocchi or rice. Anything that ensures it'sa not your Dolmio day.
- Beef Short Rib 1KG
- Tomato Passata
- Tomato Puree 1 Tablespoon
- White Onion 2
- Bulb of Garlic
- 2 sticks of Celery
- 4 Carrots
- 4 Bay Leaves
- 2 Beef Stock Cubes
- Worcestershire Sauce 4 Tablespoons
- Oregano 1 Teaspoon
- Thyme 1 Teaspoon
- Garlic Salt 1 Tablespoon
- Sea Salt 1 Tablespoon
- Cracked Black Pepper 2 Teaspoons
- Cherry Tomatoes 15
- Water 1.5 Litres
1. Start by browning the short-rib which can either be done on a BBQ or a searing hot pan. This is a fairly important step in getting the first layer of flavour into the ragu. I simply liberally applied with coarse sea salt and grilled in the BBQ for 3 minutes per side.
2. The second step is a case of simply adding all the remaining ingredients into an ovenproof dish with a lid and cooking for 4 hours at 180°C. To get things going I also preheated the oven to 220°C and once the dish was in lowered the temp to 180°C.
3. After 4 hours of cooking the short rib should be extremely tender with the bones easily coming away from the meat. Remove the meat and set aside then remove all the cooked veg to a blender. The celery, onion, carrot and garlic will make the base of the ragu acting as the soffrito. As you can see I also added a full bulb of garlic which is important not to waste. Simply squeeze out the soft bulbs and also add to the blender.
4. After blitzing the braised veg add to a pot and bring to a medium heat. At this point add the tomato puree and cook for around 3 minutes to remove its harshness.
5. With the base of the ragu complete, it's time to add the main event by shredding the short rib and adding to the ragu. Stir the meat into the sauce then add all the braising stock to the pot.
6. At this stage, the ragu sould be fairly loose meaning it needs to be reduced to intensify the meatiness of the sauce. Place on low heat and let reduce slowly for a further half an hour, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't catch.
7. I served with some Pappardelle pasta along with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. If pasta isn't your thing the Ragu also works well with cheesy polenta, gnocchi, rice or on a baked potato.
Hope you enjoy,