Monday, 9 August 2010

Lamb Bolognese

bolognese, lamb recipes, italian ragu,

Abused Italian Ragu - Ragu alla Bolognese

My recipe for Lamb Bolognese would make an Italian chef throw his arms up in the air with dismay.  The true bolognese or "ragu" would be made with beef and served with tagliatelli and not spaghetti!

However as I am not a big fan of beef, I prefer to cook bolognese with lamb (or turkey mince), for me it tastes just as good, maybe even better?
I also like to add a few extra bits, all depending on what I may have on hand, sometimes the bolognese (ragu) will be simple and sometimes it will have a variety of vegetables added, like zucchini (courgette), capsicum (red peppers), and possibly eggplant (aubergine).  Yep I do like all those vegetables in my ragu (bolognese), so you can just imagine what a true Italian would be saying about my abused ragu (bolognese) recipe, maybe something like "mamma mia" with accompanying hand gestures of course!

What bacon (pancetta)?

I have never ever put bacon (pancetta) in my spaghetti bolognese, I know some chefs recommend you do, however for my recipe you don't need it, there is enough delicious flavour already.

Too much Tomato

Hey what? Apparently the use of tomatoes is suppose to be minimal, if any at all! So that must mean my ragu (bolognese) recipe is so not authentic Italian, mind you if I had started with the real Italian ragu recipe then maybe I wouldn't be making it my way, who knows? All I can say is that my family love this version of spaghetti bolognese or Ragu alla Bolognese.



500g mince lamb
2 x red onions
4-5 x cloves garlic
1-2 x carrots
1-2 x sticks celery
50g portobello mushrooms
1 x zucchini (optional)
1 x red pepper (optional)
1-2 x bay leaves
3-5 anchovies in oil or 1 tablespoon x anchovy paste
2 x 440g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 glass x water
1/2 cup x tomato puree/paste
cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon
smoked paprika
1 tablespoon x sugar
salt and pepper
olives (optional)
olive oil
1 glass x red wine (for the bolognese - and a 2nd glass wine for the cook)


In a large pot, add a dash of olive oil, chop and saute for about 10 mins, the onions, celery, red pepper and grated carrot. 

Chop the mushrooms into small cubes, add to pot and saute another 5 minutes.

Remove all the sauted vegetables from the pot and put aside.

Add a dash of olive oil, add the minced lamb and with the lid off brown the mince all over.

Add crushed or sliced garlic, careful not to burn the garlic.

Add tomato puree, seasoning (salt and pepper), cinnamon, bay leaves, smoked paprika and sugar.

Give it all a good stir, make sure the mince is well coated with the seasoning and tomato paste.

Allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Add red wine and tinned chopped tomatoes and the water. Now add the sauted vegetables.

Stir well and bring to a gentle boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 2-3 hours without the lid.  Check and stir every 30 minutes.

Replace the lid and turn down the heat if juices are evaporating too quickly.

Serve with your favourite pasta, spaghetti or tagliatelli

Make sure you have plenty of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese available so everyone can add as much as they like.

   Buon appetito!

I have made this bolognese with turkey mince instead of lamb, home-made passata instead of tinned tomatoes, celeriac instead of celery stick, added chopped dried porcini mushrooms, added eggplant, added dried rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano, left out the red wine and water, and cooked it for only 1hr 30 mins instead of longer.  And it was still deliciously yummy!

Ragu alla Bolognese is definitely a dish a recipe which can be bastardized with satisfying results!  GO AHEAD GIVE IT A TRY!