Basic bolognese

Basic bolognese

The Frugal Cook
8-10 portions
Mike Cooper

You don't have to add the vegetables if you're short of time but it does stretch the meat and make the recipe healthier!


Quantity Ingredient
1kg beef mince
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and very finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and very finely chopped
1-2 sticks celery peeled and very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed or finely chopped
2 heaped tablespoons concentrated tomato puree
1 1/2 level teaspoons dried oregano, marjoram or herbes de provence
2 x 400g cans tomatoes
finely chopped fresh parsley, to serve
grated grana padano or parmesan, to serve


  1. Heat a large frying pan over a moderately high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, swirl round the pan then add half the mince spreading it around the pan. Fry until beginning to brown then turn it over with a wooden spoon or spatula. Keep frying until all the mince is browned. Then, tipping the pan away from you so the fat runs away, scoop out the mince onto a large plate and pour the fat that has accumulated in the pan into a cup or bowl to discard later. Replace the pan on the hob and repeat with the remaining mince, discarding the fat again at the end.
  2. Heat the remaining oil, add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over a low heat for about 7-8 minutes until soft but not coloured. Stir in the crushed garlic and cook for a minute or two. Return the meat to the pan, stir in the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the herbs and tinned tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper, bring up to boiling point then turn the heat right down and leave to cook gently for 30-40 minutes. Roughly 15 minutes before the cooking time is up, start to cook any accompanying pasta (for half this batch of mince you will need 500g of pasta which should serve up to six people). Spoon off half the sauce for one of the variations below.
  3. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the remaining mince. Tip the drained pasta into the sauce and toss together, adding a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley. Serve with grated Grana Padano or Parmesan.

Thrifty tip

  • Don't feel you have to use the extra lean mince that supermarkets promote so heavily as the initial browning of the meat gets rid of any excess fat.
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