I am one of these unfortunate people who is unable to cook for less than 4-6 people, ever. I almost find it impossible to cook for one or two, I always start out with the best of intentions and then have enough food for 4-6 people. This is ultimately what I love about this recipe, it makes enough to feed 10-12 people, which means I freeze it and multiple dinners are sorted. Being a southerner means I like things that go low and slow and this recipe ticks the box, you cook it low and slow for 6 hours and allow the flavours to develop. Ive been making this recipe for years and its great on cold evenings when you want something hearty and flavourful to beat the cold or a Dutch summers evening when you’re wondering how its cold and yet almost July.
Doing some research for this post, I came across the following definitions for sauces.
- A marinara sauce is a simple tomato based sauce with no meat.
- Bolognese sauce is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy.
- Pasta sauce is any sauce that is put on pasta.
I think this recipe/sauce falls under the category of Bolognese but isn’t made in the traditional way.
My nana recently asked for this recipe and my response was ‘Throw stuff in a pan and let simmer for 6 hours’, needless to say this wasn’t the response she wanted. It encouraged me to put create a proper recipe for something thats been in my head for years.
The ultimate 6 hour pasta sauce
Makes: 8-12 portions Prep time: 20-30 mins Cook time: 5-6 hours Total time: 6 hrs 30 mins
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1lb/500g minced beef
- 8 small carrots
- 3 bell peppers (I used red, yellow and green, use different colours as it gives better presentation)
- 1 large onion
- 250g/.5lb button mushrooms
- 250g/.5lb cherry tomatoes
- 1 X 400g/14oz tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 X 68g/2.3oz tin of tomato puree
- 1 X 500g/17.6oz box of Passata
- 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 beef bouillon cubes
- 1 tiny bottle 250ml/1cup red wine
- 1-2 tablespoons pureed garlic
- 3 tablespoons mixed herbs/italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
Now to make this utterly amazing low and slow sauce:
1. Grate your carrots and chop the rest of your vegetables. The great part of this recipe is if there is another vegetable that you love or have excess of, throw it into this recipe. Ive also used leek and zucchini and they tasted great.
2. In a very large sauce pan, add in your oil olive, grated garlic and chopped onion, sauté until soft, approximately 3-5 minutes.
3. Once your garlic and onions have softened, add in the minced beef and cook until browned, breaking up the beef. Once it has browned, remove all of the excess liquid and fat, I used a strainer (bad photo) but you want to get rid of moisture element.
4. Return the beef, onion and garlic mixture back to the pan and turn the pan on high for approximately a minute. You will hear it sizzling, this is a good thing. Now add in your wine, this will deglaze the pan, taking all the flavour from the bottom of the pan and putting it in the mixture, stir thoroughly.
5. Now to start adding in all the stuff that makes it a sauce. Add in tinned tomatoes, passata, tomato puree and herbs, stir well. Add in the tomato ketchup and brown sugar. The brown sugar helps to take away from the acidity of the tomatoes.
6. Now to add in the vegetables, quite literally just chuck them all in and stir.
7. Mix your 2 beef bouillon cubes with 2 cup of boiling water and stir until the cubes have dissolved. Pour this mixture into the sauce, this should basically now fill your pot. (This is the excitement on my face of realising its only 6 hours to go and then the sauce will be done!)
8. Bring your sauce to a rolling boil and then turn it down and allow it to very slowly simmer for 6 hours, stirring it every 30-60 mins. You will see it slowly reducing and I guess its more than half a pan full when its done. It will be between 1/2 to 2/3 of the pan when its simmered down, you want a really thick sauce with not much liquid, you dont want it runny basically. Taste it at this stage (making sure you dont burn your tongue) and add salt and pepper to taste. (Im not going to lie, I was running short on time and only did this one for 5 hours but honestly I could tell a difference, there was a lot of liquid on the plate when I dished it up and it really needed that extra hour)
This can be served with any pasta that you like or just with bread, to dip the bread in (Im also a big fan of this). It freezes really well, allow it to defrost 24 hours before reheating.
Yes, it takes a LOT of time initially, however, it tastes really delicious, your house smells really amazing and makes enough so that you dont have to make it regularly.
Edits: If you dont like wine or chose not to cook with wine, replace the wine with beef stock or beef bouillon. Honestly, the wine gives it a richness that cant be replaced. I hate wine, I dont drink it (it gives me bad headaches almost instantly) but I absolutely would not leave it out of this recipe, thats what a taste difference it makes. You can also it more tomato rich by doubling the puree, passata and tinned tomatoes if you like, then half the beef bouillon that you use.
Remember to eat on a cold evening to warm yourself up and enjoy! 🙂