Go travel to Italy and you won’t find anything called Spaghetti Bolognese. Instead, what you’ll find is Bolognese Tagliatelle, which is the real way of serving that thick meaty sauce! You can’t ever go wrong with a good plate of pasta bolognese. But I hate that it gets the reputation of being a cheap meal. It really isn’t and shouldn’t be if you do it properly. Meaty, savoury, and deep flavours – a good bolognese is soo much more than just ground meat tossed in sauce.
Bolognese is originated in Bologna, Italy, where the meat is slow-cooked into this rich and thick sauce, a.k.a a ragu. The concept of Spaghetti Bolognese isn’t authentic to Italians. It’s more of an American adaptation. In Italy, the bolognese sauce is most typically served with Tagliatelle, which has a thick and flat surface to carry along the meat sauce.
In my house, when we say we’re going to have bolognese, it means slow-cooked bolognese tagliatelle time. Take your time in letting the meaty flavours come through and you’ll be rewarded on your taste buds! I’ve always loved a bolognese, ordering it every time as a kid when eating out at restaurants. ‘You need to know how to make what you love’ – that’s what my dad used to always tell me and it took many years of playing around with ingredients & cooking methods to settle with this one that I now always stick with. That being said, by no means is this an authentic Italian bolognese recipe, but it’s a good one!
How to make Slow-cooked Bolognese Tagliatelle
- Beef Mince
- Garlic, Onion – the aromatics
- Red Chilli Flakes – optional, but great for adding a little tease to the palate
- Paprika, Oregano, Salt, Black Pepper – for seasoning
- Tomato Paste – for enriching the tomato flavour
- Tinned chopped tomatoes
- Beef Stock
- Bay Leaves – to lighten up the dish
- Vegetable Oil – for cooking
- Fresh Parsley Leaves – for garnish
- Parmesan / Vegetarian Italian Hard Cheese – grated on top to serve
Instead of cooking the aromatics and the mince together, I start with browning the mince first, remove it from the pot and then cook the aromatics (i.e the garlic and onions) in the remaining juices before eventually combining the two together. By doing this, I try to extract the flavours from the beef first by browning it in high heat. The remaining juices are then used to cook the aromatics over a lower heat to maximise the flavours. It’s a small trick but one that goes a long way!
Cooking a bolognese is not a quick job. I would cook the bolognese for at least 2 hours. The longer you cook it, the richer and more depth of flavours you will get. We want good flavours here.
Alternative Bolognese Serving Ideas
Here comes my favourite part after gobbling up all that delicious bolognese. What I really like to do is to make a big batch of bolognese. You can easily meal prep with it and you’re not just limited to pasta as well! If you want some inspiration, I’ve got a few for you that you may or may not have thought of:
- Pasta al Forno – one obvious variation would be turning the pasta bolognese into a pasta al forno, i.e baked with cheese on top! It’s definitely one you can’t go wrong with.
- Cantonese style over rice/egg fried rice – if you’re more of a rice person, in local Hong Kong restaurants, bolognese over rice (or egg fried rice), topped with a fried egg, is a thing. The traditional seasoning would be a bit different but the main thing here is that the combo works.
- Sloppy Joe – it’s also a good idea to use the bolognese for an adaptation to American Sloppy Joe! The meat sauce goes well with bread and certainly goes well being sandwiched in between toasted burger buns.
- Brunch it up – speaking of bolognese on bread, ever thought about using it as a brunch idea? I hope you don’t frown on me but I would toast some bread, butter them up and top them with fried eggs, cheese, and generous coops of bolognese on top. It works.
- Turn it into meat pies – grab some ready-made pastry sheets, scoop some bolognese in and make some meat pies! Easy peasy.
Slow-Cooked Bolognese Tagliatelle Recipe
- 500 g Fresh Tagliatelle Pasta
- 2 tbsp Cooking Oil
- 3-4 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 large Onion finely chopped
- ½-1 tsp Red Chilli Flakes
- 500 g Beef Mince
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Oregano
- Salt & Black Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 400 g tinned Chopped Tomatoes
- 2 cups Beef Stock
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 5 g Fresh Parsley Leaves chopped, more for garnish
- Grated Italian Hard Cheese to serve
- Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Add in beef mince, breaking up any lumps, and cook until browned. Remove from pot and set aside.500 g Beef Mince
- Turn the heat down to medium and add more oil if needed. Cook garlic and chilli flakes for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.2 tbsp Cooking Oil, 3-4 cloves Garlic, ½-1 tsp Red Chilli Flakes
- Add chopped onions and saute until softened and turning golden in colour, roughly about 5-10 minutes.1 large Onion
- Return the mince into the pot. Mix in tomato paste and season with paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook until starting to deepen in colour.1 tsp Paprika, 1 tsp Oregano, Salt & Black Pepper, 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
- Stir in chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes.400 g tinned Chopped Tomatoes
- Add the beef stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then turn to medium-low heat to a simmer.2 cups Beef Stock, 2 Bay Leaves
- Cover and let cook for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Add more water if needed if the mixture is getting dry or if you're planning to cook the bolognese for longer.
- Cook the pasta when you're almost ready to serve. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and season generously with salt. Cook tagliatelle pasta according to package instructions.500 g Fresh Tagliatelle Pasta
- Add fresh parsley leaves and the cooked tagliatelle. Toss to combine. Top with grated Italian hard cheese when serving.5 g Fresh Parsley Leaves, Grated Italian Hard Cheese
- This Bolognese recipe has been adapted with southern ingredients (as opposed to its Northern origin) and created to be halal-friendly.
- The longer you cook it, the more flavours it gives.
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