This is my minimalist version of a beef ragu or bolognese sauce. The secret is in the butter. Feel free to substitute in your own favourite sauce. My Irishman likes to make chef Heston Blumenthal’s bolognese which takes 2 days and has an ingredient list as long as your arm. He couldn’t believe how well my little 5 ingredient, 20 minute bolognese compared.
takes: 15 minutes
450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
large hunk butter
2 medium carrots
1. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and cook beef and garlic, stirring every now and then for about 5 minutes or until well browned.
2. Add tomato and simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced and good saucey.
3. Meanwhile bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil. Shave the carrots into ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
4. Cook carrots for 3 – 5 minutes or until al dente like cooked pasta. Drain.
5. Toss butter into the beef sauce and season.
6. Return the carrot to the saucepan and stir in some beef sauce. Then divide between plates and top with more sauce to serve.
No problems. Unlike the pasta the carrot can easily be cooked in advance and reheated without going gluggy. The meat sauce can taste better if made the day before!
vegetarian / vegan – replace the beef with the same weight of crumbled tofu.
dairy free – replace the butter with a generous drizzle of olive oil. The secret to good bolognese is richness so be generous.
fun – some fresh herbs, especially basil can be lovely sprinkled over the top.
carnivore fun – replace the beef with lamb or pork or veal or a mixture of any of the above.
carb lovers / more substantial – use spaghetti.
more veg – add diced mushrooms, carrot and celery with the onions / garlic.
Waste Avoidance Strategy
minced (ground) beef – is best eaten within a few days. To store longer buy it packed in cryovac or for longer term storage freeze it.
garlic & canned tomatoes – keep in the pantry
butter – keeps in the fridge for months.
carrots – keep wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge. Will last for weeks.
Problem Solving Guide
too bland – season with salt & pepper.
carrot difficult to shave – you need a sharp good quality peeler to do the job so make sure you have a new one. A mandoline will also work but mine doesn’t give as fine ribbons as the peeler.
too tomatoey – I like my bolognese quite tomatoey – feel free to use less tomatoes if you prefer a more beefy flavour.
carrot falling apart – if your carrot is shaved into different thicknesses, it will cook unevenly and some will fall apart. I don’t mind this so much. If the whole lot is turning into carrot ‘mush’ then next time cook for less time – it doesn’t take as long as dried pasta.
Great on its own or with a green salad.
You could serve with a little parmesan if you’re eating cheese or shave some brazil nuts over with a microplane grater – the nuts look heaps like parmesan and add a lovely subtle nutty richness.
Excellent! Will keep in the fridge for a week or so.
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