Please excuse the pun. How could I resist calling this delicious Bolognese sauce 'Bloggynese'?
I've been making Bolognese sauces for many, many years. It's one of my husband's most favourite foods. Since his heart attack, I've pared down my recipe to make it as low fat and low salt as possible, but it still retains an authentic Italian flavour and texture. I've tried various recipes and methods. I've finally settled on this one. It is SO simple, you won't believe it.....but it's even better if you have time, to make it the day before you need it. Then the flavours really have time to develop and mellow.
This recipe makes 7 portions at 4sp/3pp/approx 175 kcal per portion.
This is for the sauce alone.
You will have to add sp/pp/kcal for the quantity of pasta you use.
I usually allow for 70g
Angel hair spaghetti per person.
So, a meal including pasta and sauce works out to 11sp/10pp/approx.400 kcal, per portion.
(Click HERE for my post about cooking and apportioning pasta).
You will need:
A large, wide, deep oven-proof pan
(I use a non-stick wok or deep frying pan)
450g pack lean or extra lean minced beef
1 jar (700g) thick passata
100g tomato puree
1 tin whole cherry tomatoes
1 mug water
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 teaspoons granular sweetener
2 teaspoons dried mixed Italian herbs
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs fresh basil
1 teaspoon cornflour
Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade
Buy the leanest minced beef you can find, then you will not need to drain off any fat as there won't be any!
Put ALL of the above sauce ingredients into the pan excluding the cornflour. Retain a few fresh basil leaves (for garnishing). Those of you who are used to frying onions and pre-frying the beef will find this a little odd... but I promise you, the meat is so tender, the sauce so fine with this method, and has a much more authentic Italian ragù consistency.
Mix everything together thoroughly-break up the minced beef with a fork until everything is combined. So, at this stage, no heat has been applied, all the ingredients are cold. Even at this stage, the sauce looks bright, vibrant and packed with healthy ingredients.
Place the pan, uncovered, into a preheated oven (190 degrees centigrade).
Leave for 40-50 minutes.
After 40-50 minutes, it should look like the photo above -areas of the beef and tomatoes just starting to char and 'catch' slightly, with thickened areas forming around the edge of the pan. With a wooden spoon, stir thoroughly, mixing in the thickened, caramelized parts from the edges.
Cover the pan loosely with foil and cook for a further 30 minutes. Add the cornflour, mixed with a little cold water. (This just takes away any watery residue). You can serve it at this stage, but if you have the time, turn the oven off and allow to cool in the oven. Once cooled, it is much easier to measure out your portions.
I always bag my sauce up into pre-weighed, propointed/calorie-controlled portions and freeze them for those days when I am time-short but want a yummy, home-cooked meal.
I'm going to show you how I do this.
I've already worked out that all my ingredients come to 28sp/22pp/
Then I decide how many propoints or calories I want my portions to be.
From experience, a 4sp/3pp portion/175kcal is a good portion size.
So I know that 28sp divided by 4 or 22pp divided by 3 will give me 7 portions at 4sp/3pp/175kcal each.
So, then I place a bowl onto my scales and recalibrate the scales back to 0. I put the cooled sauce into the bowl,
weigh it and divide that figure by 7.
My cooked sauce weighs 1155g, so that amount divided by 7 means each portion needs to weigh 165g. Please weigh your own sauce accurately and divide the weight by 7 as this figure may vary.
If I am going to freeze the portions,
I find the easiest and cleanest method of weighing them out is to place a glass on the scales, pop a freezer bag into it, recalibrate the scales back to 0, then weigh out my portions.
Very soon you will have a pleasing little production line of home-made 'ready meals' which you can freeze, then defrost and reheat as and when you wish.
Sometimes I find that, after freezing, the sauce may need an addition of a little more passata, but you can judge for yourselves.
You can serve it like this (above).....but it's much more authentically Italian to add the cooked pasta to the hot sauce and mix together before serving. This way the pasta absorbs the flavours and liquids and you will make the Italians smile!
Garnish with fresh basil and a grind or two of black pepper. If you use grated parmesan, you will need to calculate the points or calories.
I have learnt to love it without cheese.
AN INSPIRATION! Make this with 'courgetti-spaghetti' to save on sp/pp/kcal or mix with half the amount of pasta you would normally use.
For more details, click HERE to see post.
You can also use this sauce as a base for chilli-con-carne by adding chilli powder to taste and red kidney beans.
(Don't forget to add propoints or calories for the beans).
For a vegetarian alternative, substitute the beef for a 350g pack of Quorn Mince. You can halve the cooking time. This makes the recipe 9sp/9pp for the WHOLE amount, so you can divide up into the portion size you want.