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"A good Bolognese sauce is an Italian classic," writes Jamie Oliver in his forthcoming book, "Jamie's Food Revolution."
"In Italy it is made in many different ways, using all sorts of wines and herbs, but I like this way because it's really reliable, tasty and simple. The classic pastas to serve this with are spaghetti, tagliatelle and penne, but this sauce can also be used for many other things. Like filling cannelloni -- or layering up a lasagna. With so many options, it's well worth bagging up any leftover sauce and freezing it for another day."
- 2 slices of smoked bacon, preferably free-range or organic
- 2 medium onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- Olive oil
- 2 heaped teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 pound good-quality ground beef, pork or (even better!) a mixture of the two
- 2 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Small bunch of fresh basil
- 4 ounces parmesan cheese
- 1 pound dried spaghetti or penne
Finely slice the bacon. Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery -- Don't worry about technique. Just chop away until fine.
Place a large casserole-type pan on a medium to high heat. Add 2 lugs of olive oil, your sliced bacon, and the oregano and cook and stir until the bacon is lightly golden.
Add the vegetables to the pan and stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes or until softened and lightly colored. Stir in the ground meat and the canned tomatoes.
Fill both empty cans with water and add to the pan. Stir in a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Pick the basil leaves and place in the refrigerator for later. Finely chop the basil stalks and stir into the pan. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer with a lid on for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching.
Remove the Bolognese sauce from the heat. Finely grate the parmesan and stir half into the sauce. Tear and stir in any larger basil leaves, keeping the smaller ones for sprinkling over before serving.
Mix up, have a taste, and season with a little more salt and pepper if needed -- congratulations! You now have a beautiful Bolognese sauce. At this stage you can allow it to cool, bag it up and freeze it, or eat it straightaway with the pasta below.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add your pasta and stir, following the package cooking times -- don't let it cook any longer or it will become too soft -- you want it to have a bit of bite.
Saving a little of the cooking water, drain the pasta in a colander. Put the drained pasta back into the pan.
Add half the Bolognese sauce to the cooked pasta and mix well, adding a little of the reserved cooking water to loosen.
Divide between your plates and spoon the remaining sauce over the top. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over the rest of the parmesan, and scatter with the small basil leaves -- bellissima!
Serves 4 to 6.
-- "Jamie's Food Revolution" (Hyperion, $35, October 2009).